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May 28 , 2011

Colonial Constructs

European Images of the Maori, 1840-1914


How did the European settler perceive Maori? What images of Maori society and culture did European artists create for their distant audiences? What preconceptions and aesthetic models lay behind early European depictions of Maori? These are some of the questions explored by art historian Leonard Bell in this major study of the relationship between the visual representation of Maori and the ideology of colonialism. He explores the complex and unbalanced cultural interchange between Europeans and Maori 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 Maori 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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