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THE DISAPPEARING GAUGUIN
I have been chasing a painting since 2017. I have visited libraries and archives in California, New York, and Paris. I have scoured the internet. And I am at the point that I need to work some things out with an audience that's curious about the intersection between art and history, museums and the (rest of) the art world. That's why I made this blog.
California Gold Rush heiress Eila Haggin McKee bought a still life signed "P.G." (for Paul Gauguin) from a reputable New York dealer in 1929. The painting--Flowers and Fruit--joined the Haggin Museum collection in Stockton, CA, in 1939. In 2018, Gauguin experts dismissed it as a forgery.
My project is to trace the history of Flowers and Fruit. I have amassed masses of evidence about the men and women who bought and sold the painting. I have files of information about Paul Gauguin, his friends and enemies. This painting's life story is wrapped up in the history of the way museums and art expertise have functioned--and my research has been a long unfurling journey into how the digital world can change knowledge creation.
Join me at The Disappearing Gauguin while I work out the process: I'll share bits of the story (some historical gossip, some character sketches, some maps), thoughts about writing and letting go of perfection (it's hard), reflections on how research translates into knowledge--and on the relationship between knowledge and power.
This blog reflects my own research and analysis. I have talked to many people about this project, and they have made it better and smarter and stronger. The opinions and faults here are my own, and do not reflect those of any current or past employers.
All of the information here is accurate to the best of my knowledge. I will cite sources and link back as often as possible. I will use Wikipedia from time to time as a general source; if you have ever been in my class and I have ever scolded you for using Wikipedia, I take it back. When possible, I will provide images and/or links to original archival source material. Translations are my own unless noted.
The Disappearing Gauguin is a work in progress. This is not the final draft; there may not be a final draft. This is a behind the scenes tour of my research process. If you have questions or thoughts, contact me at thedisappearinggauguin at gmail dot com.
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