The Easel

Paul Gauguin, self-conscious outsider, at de Young Museum

Gauguin’s move to Polynesia still puzzles. Was he escaping wife and family, or embracing the primitivism becoming evident in his art? Little in his art indicates much knowledge of the Polynesian culture. If his was a spiritual journey, as a San Francisco show suggests, surely it was more about the fantasy in his middle-aged head than the reality of his tropical destination.