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! 


Roger Butland

I found the signage too small as usual. I can only suppose the intent is to drag people away from an exhibit in order to read about what they have been looking at; that then frees the exhibit for others to view.

I thought it useful to see the oeuvre which I found derivative and mediocre. I only really liked on picture.

Philip Hatcher

not a painter I knew much about but the cleverly constructed exhibition brings the background to light & provided a wealth of information not normally seen.It was gratifying to note that during my visit there were a large number of french people milling around the paintings. Well worth a visit.

cath andre

I really enjoyed the exhibition and gelt that it gave us a really good understanding of Gauguin's life, how it shaped up and his evolution. We also enjoyed the way the sections were organised and, most importantly, the headsets were brilliant in that they drew parallels between the paintings exposed and those paitings that inspired Gauguin. Highly recommended. A good two hours are necessary to enjoy the exhibition, so beware of bringing young children as we unfortunately did!

Jonathan Kerry

This is an excellent exhibition and the way in which the pieces are arranged is especially helpful in understanding the themes which pervaded his work. I also found the background material very useful in setting Gaugin's life and work in the context of the world of the time. I will return several times, hopefully when the crowds are not so large, in order to spend more time looking at some of the most striking works.

Michael Ward

Thank you Christine and Jon for your emails and for the magnificent Gauguin show the thematic layout was very good over a chronological one big shows allow us to see the real works and only they convey an artist's wishes only they have the artist present the spirit of the pieces becomes discernible For Tate Modern to do a show on Gauguin is an excellent choice as he is such a founder of modernism like Cezanne he sets up the individual artist philosopher at odds with the world in a Nietzschean way this show enables us to think about art and the world of the century to come a show to see several times and go to just to be with the pictures Michael

katharina lupnova

When I first heard that Tate Modern was putting on a Gauguin exhibition, I must confess that my initial reaction was, 'oh, how disappointing for the Tate to be playing it safe' with another round of student gig poster boy stuff. But. When I went Monday morning ("it should not be crowded at this hour! I said to the man at the entrace who just giggled, "with this one there are no quiet times")I realised there was much to learn. Not least because curator Christine Riding has done a superb job in organising an impressive number of exhibits in a sensitive and highly intelligent manner - without any of the selfconscious design overkill which has plagued so many high profile exhibitions of late. This show is what membership is for! After the initial introduction, I shall relish going back again and again to focus in on different subjects each time. As for Gauguin; the theme of the exhibition, the maker of myth gets it just right. He may look like a wild beast with his strong colours and bold lines, but as you walk through the exhibition you soon realise that this is a rather domesticated fauve. The bourgeois business man who never really achieved savagery, but beautifully packaged his exotic paradise for his European dealers to sell. This is creative colonialism at its most sumptuous. But it leaves you feeling uneasy. Beautiful young women on display, objects to be admired and desired. This is good graphic design, but not art. It is beautiful, but there is no sense of engagement, it remains an attractive tableau. As paintings, the canvases show very little evidence of any breaking of ground, pushing of boundaries, thinking out loud in colour as you get from Matisse and Derain. These pictures are all meticulously worked out with good draughtsmanship and drawn up in a glorious blue outline (rather than the usual umber)and the colours filled in using a surprisingly small brush. There is something oddly neat about it all. However those are first impressions. I shall go back for seconds, thirds and more!


I was never sure about Gauguin. To my surprise I have changed my stance. I love the way he uses blocks of colour. I love the frisson which lies beneath the paint. Reminds me of Webster 'always saw the skull beneath the skin'. Very well hung. Great narrative but ideally could have been reduced by 20%. We were both shattered at the end. Why do so few of the subjects look at the viewer?

Fidel Meraz

Excellent works were shown. I enjoyed looking at the paintings during almost three hours. The contextual rooms are effective to appreciate Gaugin in context.

In exhibitions of a single artist, I would prefer the chronological order rather than the thematic. Sometimes may be time consuming check the dates of the works to have an idea of the evolution of style and make. Some of the rooms (the one that approached the titles of the works maybe?) a bit too small to appreciate the works there exhibited. Overall a very good exhibition though.

caroline arbon

Crowded - but not so crowded you couldn't see the work.

Colour play with perspective and scale was magnificent. Carvings and ceramics were fascinating, and great to see in life and then repeated as themes in paintings, woodcuts etc.

Only comment was I would have liked to see something in chronological order (even just 1 room) as it was I found myself going backwards and forwards through rooms to look at reused motifs and compare use of colour in given years.


Looking forward to seeing this very much, thanks for the tempting review Jon and also compliments on your natty suit and tie, did you pitch up on your bike;-))

ellis nadler

Loved the clogs. Woodcuts were new to me....must've been murder to print. Fave painting was the pale recumbent girl with the red fox. Some of the late works were a bit corny. Surprised at how dull the colours were compared to reproductions....and guess what? I prefer the reprints.

Andrew Tems

A wonderful exhibition. Gauguin has long been special to me. I have been fortunate enough to visit both Tahiti and the Marquesas and have found my visits enhanced by being able to see these places in part through the eyes of such a great artist. I found when I travelled around Tahiti that I was seeing all the time faces that could have walked straight out of a Gauguin canvas. I should have liked the exhibition to have included more information on Gauguin's family. Contrary to some criticisms of him I am unaware that any of his partners or children (some of whom lived to a great age) were ever infected with syphylis.

Rose Cavanagh

I loved the Gauguin exhibition. His pictures are so bright and clourful. I particularly liked the Tahitian pictures and the Breton women. I was amazed how large the exhibition is - it took me about 4 hours to go round. I have travelled quite extensively, and was particularly inspired by my visit to Costa Rica, with its beautiful birds and animals, and its extensive rain forest. I wish I had the talent of Gauguin, to capture the sights I have seen on canvas.

The only criticism I have of the exhibition, was the background information section was very dark, and I was unable to read a lot of the information.

Hana Rudcenko

I did enjoy the clarity of the exhibition, each room had a theme and this was clearly illustrated. Problem was with the small letters next to the pictures, which I could not read because of the distance and also because of the number of people at a time wishing to do the same. I would have liked a book with large letters within each room to aid me. I did like the separate chronological rooms, which put Gauguin's progress,letters, comments, pictures of what it was like at the time when he was there and how he interpreted the ideas, that was good. I would have liked to be given more information on the symbolism within the paintings. I love his colours and individual approach to complex ideas. It' a lot to take in one go, so I will be visiting it again as towards the end I was just walking through the last few rooms too tired to wait to see the pictures individually and spend time to appreciate them.

Jo Winters

Good show and I have also completely re-evaluated Gaugin but I agree with others, would have better in chronological order. Labels too small, too distant from the objects and some already coming off. Couldn't see any large print folders. Couldn't get near enough to some of the photos to see them clearly as there were glass cases in front of them and shame of shame the postcards and catalogue were very poor colour reproductions.

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

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.

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

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.

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.


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!


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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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?

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.

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.

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

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!

Russell Martin

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

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!

Edgeworth Johnstone

fantastic show. really excellently done.

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.


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.


Predilection dear, not predeliction. Tsk, tsk!

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!

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.

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.

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.

can't stan...

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

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.

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

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

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.