Gauguin became a leader of the Postimpressionists and Symbolists in art. He is known for using color to express ideas. Tired of traditional European painting, Gauguin admired the mystic symbolism of African and Asian art. He also focused on primitive art styles. He sailed to Tahiti to escape materialism and bourgeois culture, although critics have argued that his depiction of native Tahitians remains ethnocentric.
Mariah takes Lucy to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see Gauguin's exhibit. Although it is not stated in the novel, we could imagine that she saw Ia Orana Maria (1891) and Two Tahitian Women (1899), both of which are at the museum.