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Gauguin and Van Gogh Meet the 9th Art: Postmodernism and Myths about Great Artists

Screech, Matthew (2020) Gauguin and Van Gogh Meet the 9th Art: Postmodernism and Myths about Great Artists. European Comic Art, 13 (1). pp. 21-44. ISSN 1754-3797

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Abstract

Abstract This article analyses how a late 20th/early 21st Century development in BDs, which combines historical novels with biographies, expresses paradoxical attitudes towards mythologies surrounding Gauguin and Van Gogh. Firstly I demonstrate that the paradox stems from a simultaneous desire for and suspicion of master narratives, identified in postmodernism by Hutcheon. Then I establish how eight graphic novels perpetuate pre-existing mythological master narratives about Gauguin and Van Gogh. Nevertheless those mythologies simultaneously arouse scepticism: myths do not express exemplary universal truths: myths are artificial and fictionalised constructs, whose status in reality is dubious. The albums convey that tension between desire and suspicion regarding myths by a variety of devices. These include sequenced panels, circular plots, unreliable witnesses, fictional insertions, parodies and mock realism.

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