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! 


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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;-))

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.

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.


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?

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!

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

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.

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!

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.

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.