Christine Riding with Tate Member Jon Snow
Opening night: co-curator of the Gauguin exhibition Christine Riding with Tate Member Jon Snow

Well, we finally got there. All the works of art, the graphics and lighting, barriers and benches were installed by Monday. By lunchtime on Tuesday, 380 members of the press from across the world had seen the exhibition. You’ve probably seen some reviews already, which have been fantastically positive. And last night, we had the opening event for the exhibition. Here I am in Gallery 5 with Tate Member Jon Snow, in front of some of Gauguin’s beautiful landscapes…looking relieved and happy! It opens for everyone tomorrow - please go and see the show! 


Cristina Kent

Gaugin has never been a favourite of mine, but I found the exhibition interesting in the wide variety of his earlier work that is not so familiar. Some pieces I found very appealing (still life) but on the whole I can admire without being moved by much.


1. I found that having the labels of the pictures so far away not useful - when a lot of people are present, it is impossible to work out to which they refer without wasting a lot of time pushing about - and annoying others, no doubt.

2. surprised by how dull in colour many were - do they need cleaning?

3. The paintings of female figures & children were the best, I thought, and very good. This is what he loved, and it is horrible to remember he used these girls sexually, even when more than twice their age, infected and eventually ulcerated with syphilis. He fails to be a great painter, in my view, because he was not so much interested in painting as in himself. A tormented and possibly tormenting character, alas.

Val Gleave

I went to this show with a built in prejudice against Gauguin and his 'sleazy' life. I had no idea that he was a genius, that his wife had left him, and that he had so many artistic gifts. I feel that had I met him as a young woman I would have found him incredibly attractive and seductive and that his talents would have been intimidating. Perhaps this is what happened to Van Gogh - one would want to impress such a person. It is hard to think that he wasn't always a full time artist. His carvings and woodcuts are magnificent. Also the illustrated letters - very moving to see. A beautifully organised show. Being able to go to the Private View when the galleries are not too crowded allowed me to have a wonderful, revelatory time at the exhibition. Thank you.



Helen Carey

Even on the email the exhibition looks sumptuous. Looking forward to it.

Simon Roberts

I was fascinated by and deeply impressed with this exhibition. Brilliantly curated. How amazing to see Clovis sleeping with the mug and also to see the mug itself. Will have to come back to look at the "life and times" rooms in more detail.

Just some minor criticisms of the accompanying commentary:

1. Surely Pont Aven should be correctly pronounced in French (and not in English as Pont "Avenne")? This sounded awful!

2. There was some prissiness in the references to his predeliction for teenage girls. We are grown-ups and we understand the "sex tourism" aspects of his visits to Polynesia. But it was a brilliant show!!

Elizabeth Lines

I loved the carvings! I will certainly return

Andy Spriggs

Cristina Kent's view (above) matches my own - I admire Gauguin without being moved. The show itself (together with the BBC documentary I watched the night before) gives a deep insight into the man and his psyche and you should be proud of what you have achieved with it. Your remarks on the iPhone commentary were insightful and thought-provoking and I felt the 90 minutes I spent walking around the exhibition was time very well spent. Thank you for all your hard work to bring this fascinating exhibition to Tate Modern.


Well done! To show the breadth of his work, including the delightful little lithographs, lino cuts and sketches was to emphasise how he aired his talent and passion in so many ways. And the clogs! How big were those feet? I trust the Curators will now get a well deserved rest. LD

Gertrud Mander

Fascinating how Gauguin created a Tahiti in his mind, complete with the sort of passive woman he fantasized about and how this enabled him to evolve a style of his own,to the point of living the myth and constructing a personal colour spectrum. Thank you

doris gyasi

Thank you for your email regarding the exhibition. I was planning to go with my daughter during the coming half-term. I don't know whether I can wait till then. We may be go before it sounds very exciting.



Simon Roberts

Thank you for your comment Magali. I stand corrected.

Julie Chiffers-...

May I say a belated Happy Birthday! The show looks incredible, would love to go up and see it. JCR


Actually, Pont Aven is a place in Britany which, as many "Breton" places, is not pronounced the way you'd expect in French.... so in this case it is right to pronounce it Avenne.

Alan Folly

I have always admired the work of the other post impressionists but have found Gauguin left me unmoved. His later Tahiti works, which were the only ones I was aware of, always seemed distant, somewhat sad and didn't engage me. However having gone to the exhibition I have a different perspective. I was surprised and delighted by his carving and ceramics. I also found his drawings very powerful and engaged me in a way his paintings hadn't. I still find his later painitings sad and distant but understand them more given the various set backs in his life. They are also part of his attempt to invent a world he wanted to live in rather than as I previously thought just 'playing' to the art world in Paris. This is an exhibition that I will return to a few times to fully appreciate Gauguin.

ralph roseman

I thought it was a well orgnised show, the audio commentary was appropriate and not too long. It was also understandable to a layman. Gauguin does not come across as a nice guy but who cares, his art is good.


Katheryn Campbell

I was very impressed with the expansive breadth of the show. I was lucky enough to see the Gauguin show at the Chicago Institute of Art back in 1987 so I had the pleasure of comparing the two shows. I must say, Tate did a wonderful job bringing sculptures and carvings relevant to paintings into juxtaposition - this, I found literally pulled me into the painting. I was hoping to see G's massive canvas "Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? itself as I did in Chicago but did not leave the show with any sense of lack. I particularly enjoyed the journals, newspapers and letters which brought an intimacy and holistic sensibility to the show. Thank you

max lewis

I enjoyed the exhibition and found the presentation ie not in order of painting novel and interesting. It is a seriously big exhibition. Some of the paintings eg the Virgin are amazing.

Gaugin's interest in young girls and the irresponsibility of his sex life ( eg with syphallis could have been explored more - is what he did normal for his time?)

The exhibition was very crowded and I expected this and will obviously return again on a quieter day. I want to study the books etc in less crowded conditions

What was very annoying is the number of ENORMOUS SUV type prams with screaming children who obviously wanted to be elsewhere. You ban correctly mobiles and cameras - when the exhibition is crowded prams should also be banned and your security staff told to " counsel" visitors whose children are screaming. ( and I write this as a grandfather of toddlers) max

Jeremy Fox

Excellently curated, though I would have preferred a chronological format rather than having a thematic interpretation "imposed" on me. As far as the works are concerned, I was struck by how close G was to "fauvism", and also by his treatment of landscape and human form as elements separated not by an illusion of physical space but by colour and pattern - so reminiscent of Matisse whom G must surely have influenced.

can't stan...

Predeliction? Surely a pedant such as you present yourself to be must be fuming at making such a mistake?

Genny Boccardo-Dubey

A fine exhibition. I loved the overall installation as well. I thought the wall colors and the quotes at the entrance set the mood appropriately. And I was delighted to see several of his iconic paintings. Even though he is not my preferred artist, he was seminal in advancing color thought and compositional experimentation. Also, the mystery of his work comes through in the exhibition wonderfully.

James Mac

Yes The wood carvings were magnificent. Somehow the colours of the paintings were not bright in the diffuse lighting of the rooms, and would be glowing in natural light. I also liked the adjacent rooms with period posters and cuttings. No postcards of 'Nevermore' were available, but some startling images on bags and cushions. Maybe best to see the paintings in Tahiti.

Mel Haffner

I have tickets for November, can I wait that long, it seems unmissable from what I have read and heard this week. Having been to the Van Gough exhibition earlier in the year and read the book the Artist and his letters I came away feeling really sad for Van Gough who had so wanted to work more closely with Gauguin. I will be interested to see if I feel the same way after visiting the exhibition. Looking forward to it.

sara harrington

I am sure the exhibition was wonderful. Unfortunately I did not know there was an enormous detour for pedestrians, as there is building work at the Southbank and subsequently missed my time slot!


Predilection dear, not predeliction. Tsk, tsk!


I thoroughly enjoyed the Gauguin exhibition - particularly the later Tahitian works which I found quite haunting. However, the lighting was not optimal, I think daylight would have been better. And might it have been better to arrange it in chronological order to fully follow and understand his life and development? Luckily I had caught the BBC documentary beforehand.

mina choi

i visited this blog through my e-mail from Jon Snow which was telling me about his feelings for the Gauguin's exhibition on his birth day. I'm getting many e-mail magazine from some galleries abroad but this e-mail was somehow different from others to me. Anyway thanks for reminding my old passion for arts and giving me some refreshments. I'm sorry that i'm not able to see this show as I'm in Korea now, but i'll enjoy this online anyway and hope to see that some time. Hope everythings go well.

Edgeworth Johnstone

fantastic show. really excellently done.

Russell Martin

To see the Gaugin's in the flesh was truly amazing - the colours! But the curation was not the equal of the paintings. Why curators feel they have to justify their existence or their fee by having some kind of agenda is beyond me, when what you want, no need, with a painter like Gaugin is a simple chronological arrangement that charts his evolution as a painter - the development of his brush work in particular, not to mention his palette according to his environment. To mix up Breton landscapes with Tahitian landscapes merely because they were landscapes was both perverse and unhelpful. But none of this is as irritating as the appalling catalogue - how on earth those dire reproductions whose colours bore no relation to originals got in there is beyond me. I walked out of there desperate to part with my money but in the end could not. A heart-breaking missed opportunity - shame on you whoever was responsible for that!

Russell Martin

In which case it clearly wasn't excellently curated, was it? That was also my point about a chronological arrangement

Stewart Gaudie

I visited on the first public day with my partner. She found it hot and claustrophobic, and was scathing of the Gaugin who infected young girls with syphilis. As to the exhibition, I didn't have the audio guide. Were there pinch points where those with these guides gathered? Small rooms such as room 9 were so. As an artist, I would have preferred to see a chronological display. Important to me was the opportunity to see paintings held in foreign and private collections, and the carvings and sculptures were an added dimension. and I hope to return for a second appraisal!

Tony Cotterill

Any enjoyment of the exhibition was alomost completely destroyed by the large (too many) people that were admiited into it, despite ticketted timeslots. The art itself was of course worth seeing but getting to appreciate it or even read the narrative was nigh on impossible

Pedro Catala

What a great exhibition! I went on fridayevening. It was packed but I didn't find any difficulties reading the signs. This exhibition is opening the eyes of many people, including myself, of the increbible artist he was and his devotion to art. Congratulations to the curators of the exhibition.

glenn hess

First of all I really valued the opportunity of visiting such an important exhibition on a day when I could walk around enjoying it without the usual crowds and for that I thank you. I think that the effort you all went to to gather the exhibits for the show was great and I really liked looking at them all. I thought that the lighting especially on the Thiati colours was not right and I cannot understand why I left feeling that maybe it could have been better. I felt that the Frida Kahlo exhibition showed bright colours in a better light and felt more exciting.


I presume the timed tickets only govern what time you enter, not how long you can spend in the exhibition? So without herding everyone out when they have had an alloted time you cannot predict whether visitors will take 30 mins or three hours to look round. If this is the case how can you govern the exact numbers in the gallery at any one time?

Stuart Curley

I went to the exhibition yesterday with my partner and 9 year old son. He was particularly interested because of the link to Van Gogh and the exhibition in the RA earlier in the year. I thought the exhibition was very well laid out and the commentary very well thought out. My problem is with Gaugin himself. He was clearly good at drawing and his use of colour was quite radical for his day, however, I find his subject matter and representation suspect. I find his focus on "exoticism" racist, his focus on idealised representations of women monotonous and sexist. It is striking that all the white Breton women keep their kit on while the Tahitians were persuaded to pose half naked. My concerns stems not form a prurient reaction to nudity or sexual imagery quite the contrary. I find his obsessions reactionary and they tell me nothing about real women in either Brittany or Tahiti at the time or even any interesting universal themes about women and sexuality. It just confirms that he like many artists believe they are apart or aloof from society and have no need to engage in an intelligent discourse with the rest of us.

Alastair Murray

I was surprised by Gauguin's Tahiti paintings, whilst they have helped to "shape” the popular view/controversy about his time in Tahiti, their sensitivity to the subjects surprised me, I had been expecting something else entirely, despite how busy it was (Saturday, just after 4 pm) it was a mesmerising experience and I shall certainly return (during the week).

The recent revelations about the US government & their human syphilis experimentation in Latin America does tend to put some (if not all) of the "colour” around Gauguin into perspective.

He will no doubt remain controversial but for a "Sunday painter” his technique was incredible, I did a "speedy” visit (with my 9 year old son, who is autistic) but we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

frank eul

We loved the exhibition, but thought the organisation was poor. Having bought a 1000am slot via the internet and been told to pick up the tickets 20minutes before hand in the confirming email, we travelled up the evening before from Devon to do just that; only to be told to wait outside the building first in one queue and then in another until 1000am,we were not even allowed to enter the building to use the toilet, very poor form organisers.

Jean Horton

I visited the Gaugin in Saturday 2 Oct and loved it. I learnt so much about the life and work of Gaugin. previously I thought that he only painted the women of Tahiti.

Annabel B

I've always been bewitched by Gauguin's unique, startling, beautiful colours. What an eye and an imagination he had, to create such a visual impact. I loved being able to look at the paintings in this exhibition, and to simply ponder them.

I learned a lot about the facts of his life, and some of the messages he may have been trying to convey. Why is it always a shock to realise that people who lived in pre "modern" times could be just as complex, badly principled and as hustling as we are today?! And boy, did he travel a lot. But this all just got in the way of looking at the work. Halfway through the commentary, I kept listening simply to screen out the throngs of people.

Just one or two of the paintings looked less intense than the reproductions I've seen.

Thank you for the exhibition. I will be coming back again. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I will be bringing my own i-pod music to listen to.

Sue B

It was great to enjoy the benefit of membership, avoid the long queues and walk straight in. I didn't use the audio, and with lighting levels found the labels in awkward positions and difficult to read so I concentrated on the paintings.

Loved the wood carvings. Was aware of Pont-Aven and Tahiti but hadn't previously taken in that Gauguin had been a stockbroker and a "Sunday Painter". There were two smaller rooms with vast amounts of written material and photos but it was difficult to take this all in comfortably as the rooms were crowded.

I loved the Martinique and Tahiti landscapes (fabulous colour), and even the Tahiti women paintings were very beautiful. However I find Gauguin's attitude to women and particularly his treatment of the Tahitians distasteful and controversial, and the exhibition did nothing to dispel these concerns. I will however return to the exhibition particularly to study the written material.

Marion Ashworth


I went to the exhibition on Friday and was glad that I booked in online so that I could walk straight in. I was bowled over by it all, the information provided visually, the paintings and carvings, and the Ipod with its little video clips and detailed information about some of the key works. It was a highlight of my visit from Sydney. It was good too to have been to the National Gallery in the morning and seen the flowers that Van Gogh painted for Paul Gaugin to be placed in his room in anticipation of his visit. It all fitted in. Thank you.

Maggie Pyne

Approaching brilliant! I thought I knew Gauguin and his works but realise that this was conditioned by paintings in the Courtauld. Tate Modern has once again made me pause for thought. I have had to revise my understanding and admire those sublime passages of painting that are scattered throughout the exhibition until the last failing years. I shall go again and have the i pod experience this time and then yet again to just drift from favourite canvas to favourite canvas.Finally having absorbed all this I shall have a go myself!


Great exhibition with much interesting detail.

However a few complaints:

Too many visitors admitted at same time for such a small space. Surely the purpose of timed entry is to avoid crowding.

The information on the walls next to the exhibits is too small resulting in a scrum of short sighted people crowding in and getting close to the pictures - thus obstructing vision of others.

Please fix bug in your on-line booking system that rejects credit cards with foreign post codes. Very British - but not so quaint - a real time waster.


I read last pages of The Way to Paradise (Vargas Llosa, Mario) in a plane and Friday evening (1.10) went direct from the flight to exhibition (no queuing with pre-booked tickets). It was wonderful to come and see by own eyes what was described in the book. I would warmly recommend reading this book before going and admiring the event. Poor Koke, somehow I´ve always felt sympathy for him, with all his defects, maybe because of them too ( perfect is boring!) Reproduction itself enlargened my Gauguins experiense with d`Orsay and Hermitage. It was a bit confusing with above mentioned non-chronological display but it only made me to go back to previous rooms to compare all the time and have more pleasure. Thank you for nice job and would like to comeback. Beautiful!

Aline Gauguin

Have just seen the exhibition with all my scandinavian relatives. Much better than in Paris 1989. Grand Palais.

Thank you for the beutiful and interesting guide(privately for us) .

Aline Gauguin-Larsson (grand, grand daughter of the painter). Stockholm. Sweden.

harriet brigdale

LOVE LOVE LOVE the exhibition, started at the 4th and 5th room so had the place nearly to myself on Sunday morning. I teach art and am doing a project with my students on Gauguin, I had been looking at lots of Gauguin books, also saw the Paris Gauguin in the late 80's So when I looked at the paintings it was like looking at friends, the design of them is something that I, as an artist am so intrigued with, his various methods of applying paint, which sometimes was the result of running low on certain colours is so varied . Could go on and on, thanks so much for dragging them from all over the world and bringing them together in such a good way.

Roger Lang

Dear Christina

I enjoyed my visit to the exhibition and will be returning. Thank you for sending an email inviting comments, but I'm not sure I like my movements being tracked in this way. Please ask the marketing people not to do it again. If I have comments to make on exhibitions, I will send them to you. Best wishes, Roger

Jem Bunce

Superbly laid out exhibition whatever one thinks of Gauguin. One felt one met the man not just his art. Worth the visit from Cornwall.

Mania Row

In 1889, Gauguin made 11 zincographs ( prints) on brilliant, canary-yellow paper, created at a crucial point in his career and offer an overview of the central themes in his work, from the exotic landscapes of Martinique to scenes of Pont-Aven and Arles- with these G. presented his calling card as an artist - don't miss them at the Gauguin show at Tate Modern - on now - brilliant