Art in Oceania

Art in Oceania

A New History

  1. Peter Brunt
  2. Nicholas Thomas
  • ISBN 9780500239018
  • 27.50 x 23.50 cm
  • Hardback
  • 536pp
  • 507 Illustrations, 412 in colour
  • Including 6 maps
  • First published 2012

Winner of The 2014 Art Book Prize

'Amongst extremely tough competition, we awarded this year’s prize to 'Art in Oceania' – a magisterial, nearly encyclopaedic volume on a so far relatively neglected field that is beginning to attract increasing scholarly and popular interest. This one should be on every art lover’s bookshelf.' - Loyd Grossman (Judge for the Art Book Prize)
‘A brilliant and highly original achievement. Nuanced, multi-disciplinary and fully collaborative in authorship and spirit … this book will undoubtedly stand as the definitive introduction and reference work on the rich and diverse arts of Pacific peoples for many years to come.’ – Ruth B. Phillips, Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Art and Culture and Professor of Art History, Carleton University
'Ambitious and brilliantly successful. The collaborative scope is unprecedented. Each chapter is a revelatory essay, filled with astonishing images and evocative quotations …. This volume sets a new standard for the cultural history of a complex, dynamic region.'– James Clifford, University of California
‘Extraordinary … the sheer magnitude of knowledge to which this book extends far surpasses any studies conducted previously’ – Aesthetics
‘Coming from Thames & Hudson it goes without saying that the book is well designed, superbly illustrated, with sufficient footnotes to satisfy even the fastidious reader, a sound bibliography and index … this volume must stand as the authoritative overview of the art of a region of the world that has both a rich history and a lively contemporary art community’ – The Burlington Magazine
‘As beautiful in its way as the objects it describes …’– The Daily Telegraph

The arts of Oceania are astonishing: great statues, daunting tattoos, dynamic carving, dazzling woven and painted fabrics, intricately carved weapons, and a bewildering variety of ornaments, ritual objects, and utilitarian but beautiful things.

Art in Oceania

Art in Oceania is the product of a remarkable collaboration among a team of anthropologists, art historians and curators of both European and Pacific Islands descent. The product of years of engagement with communities across the Pacific, and research in the collections of dozens of museums, this book is a revelation of Oceanic art, past 
and present, reimagined for the twenty-first century.

The book reveals the art of Oceania as profoundly dynamic, at once grounded in tradition and full of innovation. It ranges from the earliest archaeological evidence through the great historic works collected by such voyagers as Captain Cook to the arts of the last fifty years.

It does justice to the variety of Pacific cultures, from those of the Highlands of New Guinea to the the furthest reaches of Polynesian settlement in New Zealand and Easter Island. It ranges across genres, from ancient rock art through ritual architecture to contemporary painting and installation art, as no previous survey has done. Its hallmark is the argument that art in Oceania is a product of history – from the changing relations among Pacific peoples to their resilience and creativity in the face of colonial intrusions and the challenges of globalization.

Art in Oceania reinterprets icons of Oceanic art in the context of the colonial encounters that shaped them, and brings the story of Oceania’s modernisms into view as part of contemporary history.

The Authors
Peter Brunt is Senior Lecturer in Art History at Victoria 
University of Wellington. Nicholas Thomas is Director of the Cambridge University 
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Sean Mallon is Senior Curator, Pacific Cultures, 
at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Lissant Bolton is Keeper of the Department of Africa, 
Oceania and the Americas at the British Museum. Deidre Brown is Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, 
at the University of Auckland. Damian Skinner is Curator of Applied Arts & Design
at the Auckland Museum and a Newton Fellow at Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Susanne Küchler is Professor of Anthropology 
at University College London.