INSERT IN THIS BOX IMAGE TITLED “GAUGUIN” 

  

 

Slightly more complex is Paul Gauguin’s The Spirit of the Dead Watching, 1892. Sociologically, the woman represents sexual restlessness. Her body is nude rather than naked due to the simplification of her body’s shapes. Gauguin introduced the like-look effect as the woman sees us seeing her. She doesn’t make an attempt to cover up or demonstrate any shame in her bodily display. Obviously her pose invites fetishism by the heterosexual male, especially amongst those interested in sodomy. Now, what about the figure at the far left? We see him(?) watching her. She sees us. Is she asking us to chase that “spirit of the dead” away from the room? I think that that is the point of the painting. Gauguin sought to get us involved in the human drama, and though we are “outside” of the pictorial space, we have been drawn into the narrative and our presence and potential to act are being recognized by the woman.