Colonial Constructs: European Images of Māori, 1840–1914
How did the European settler perceive Māori? What images of Māori society and culture did European artists create for their distant audiences? What preconceptions and aesthetic models lay behind early European depictions of Māori? These are some of the questions explored by art historian Leonard Bell in this major study of the relationship between the visual representation of Māori and the ideology of colonialism. He explores the complex and unbalanced cultural interchange between Europeans and Māori in nineteenth-century New Zealand, in addition to showing how the great range and variety of pictures often revealed more about the artists – and their society and its attitudes – than they did about Māori themselves. This lively and readable book is well illustrated with examples of the artists' work and will be an important contribution to the understanding of colonial New Zealand and the role played by the artist in expressing and creating cultural patterns.
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It is an excellent reminder of a fundamental principle: that a really well researched and written book, on what seems a narrow and specific topic, can have great general interest and value. – David Dolan, Canberra Times