New York: Reynal and Company, 1961. 1st US Edition. Quarto, publisher's terra cotta cloth, spine and upper board stamped in black and sienna, laid paper, original illustrated dust jacket.
First US edition of Gauguin's Tahitian journal, with numerous full-page reproductions of watercolors, drawings and woodblock prints, many in color. The artist first traveled to Tahiti in an effort to live simply and to draw inspiration from what he saw as the island's exotic native culture. He began the original manuscript for Noa Noa (a Tahitian word meaning "very fragrant") upon his return to France in 1893, and completed it during his second trip to Tahiti in 1895. The text, an account of his immersion into the spiritual world of the South Seas, was the result of a collaboration between Gauguin and his friend, the symbolist poet Charles Morice. To illustrate it, Gauguin turned for the first time to the woodcut medium, creating a series of dark and brooding prints that he intended to publish alongside his journal—a publication never realized in his lifetime (a typeset text-only edition appeared in 1901, with a complete facsimile of the illustrated manuscript not appearing until 1954). In addition to the prints, which he pasted to the journal's blank pages, Gauguin executed original watercolors and drawings directly over sections of the text. His "visual interpretation of this primitive culture in powerful rhythmic and totemic designs is distinctly his own…. Noa Noa represents an important project in book-making by this major artist" (The Artist and the Book 115). The original manuscript resides at the Louvre in Paris. Translated by Jonathan Griffin, with a postscript by Jean Loize discussing the circumstances of the manuscript and its publication history. Minor toning to edges of unclipped dust jacket, with one small tear to top edge of rear panel. A very nearly fine copy of a seminal livre d'artiste. Item #1422