Polynesian pop icon
How Tiki became an American dream
Urban islands and bamboo hideaways set the stage for a pop culture phenomenon like no other. In mid-century America, the imaginative appeal of Tiki penetrated fashion, music, eating, drinking, and architecture.
Published in connection with an exhibition at the prestigious Musée du quai Branly in Paris, Tiki Pop traces the development of Tiki as romantic vision and cultural appropriation. Follow Tiki from James Cook's first Pacific Island expeditions, through Gauguin's exotic paintings, Hollywood jungle fantasies, and elaborate temples erected to celebrate Tiki as the god of recreation. With hundreds of previously unpublished images, Tiki the pop icon unfolds from its earliest, enthusiastic beginnings to its spectacular downfall in the dawning awareness of the Western world's colonial misdeeds.
This book is the culmination of the extensive research of Sven Kirsten, urban archaeologist, Tiki sage, and author of earlier TASCHEN books, The Book of Tiki and Tiki Modern, which first recovered the figure of Tiki from obscurity. In his widely lauded graphic style, Kirsten places venerable ancient godheads next to their Polynesian pop counterparts, movie posters next to matchboxes, comic strips next to Robinson Crusoe illustrations. The result is at once a visual feast, a piece of cultural history, and a tribute to a very particular vision of paradise.
Sven Kirsten was conceived on a freighter of his grandfather's Hamburg-Chicago Line. Following the call of the big world, he moved to California at the age of 25. Kirsten studied at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and began shooting music videos in the late 1980s for The Cramps, Tom Waits, Sergio Mendes and others. After years of hunting down pieces of the puzzle of Polynesian Pop, Kirsten has developed a singular insight into the Cult of Tiki and has become the country's most eminent Tiki archaeologist.