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Oviri (The Savage)
1894
stoneware
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Her name taken from a Tahitian word meaning "wild" or "savage," Oviri is a deity of Gauguin's imagination. Her rough, disproportionate — even grotesque — form stands in stark contrast to the ideals of Western classical beauty. Created in Paris in 1894 between stays in Tahiti, Oviri depicts a monstrous, destructive female who crushes the she-wolf at her feet, the animal's blood trickling along the base. Clutching a pup to her side, Oviri appears to have violently snatched the wolf's offspring. Gauguin considered Oviri his greatest ceramic sculpture, noting to his dealer that "no ceramist has ever produced anything like it before." He requested that it be sent back to Tahiti upon his death to be placed upon his grave; a bronze cast was eventually put there instead to better withstand the climate.

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