Tate Modern Gauguin exhibition poster
Tate Modern's Gauguin exhibition poster

Ok. It has been a month since our Gauguin exhibition opened and we have already had a fantastic amount of comments from visitors. Many thanks to everyone. As a curator, these insights into people’s experience, thoughts and opinions are fascinating and will certainly inform any projects I work on in the future. Please do post messages on the Tate blog - I read them all! I look forward to hearing from you. Christine 



Exhibition space too small, the crowding did detract from my enjoyment. Ended up viewing the exhibition in a haphazard way, basically where ever a space appeared i went into it. Paintings are great to look at if you can actually see them, but you have to question why bother with the hassle and would you be better admiring the paintings in a book from the peace and comfort of your living room. Stressful experiences like this are not going to get the public excited about art.


Great exhibition apart from the crowds. TOO BUSY !

John Cooper

Enjoyed exhibition, can live with crowds but where was " Roses and statuette " from Rheims ? which would have been an interesting contrast and a good reminder of similarity between G's work and van G's at that time. I would have loved to have seen the Prague version of Bonjour M.Gaugin at least mentioned as I think it is a better picture !! Otherwise well done !!

marie ledan

Exhibition like Gauguin (or the Miro's coming) should be at Tate Britain, I am expecting more contemporary exhibition at Tate Modern like you did with Cildo Mereiles, Francis Allys... and what about sculptures exhibitions?

Chris Miller

The opportunity to see an important collection of an influential artist was spoilt by too many people allowed in. Additionally pushchairs and large rucksacks should not have been allowed in given the number of people present. The captions were far too small and feint and insufficient contrast with the background. The lack of numbering was also unhelpful as was the placement of the captions. Overall we were very disappointed as we had heard and read so much about this exhibition and were really looking forward to it.

Peter Tate

I found the thematic approach helpful because it got me thinking about different aspects of his life. I was surprised about how well travelled he was, I knew of Tahiti, but also his early years in South America, in Denmark and also how many places he had been in the Pacific. I was surprised too that in spite of his hostility to the established church, spiritual themes figured so prominently in his work. His scenes of Tahiti were haunting - perhaps he was subconsciously looking for Paradise, maybe like all of us, but I don't know if he ever found it. Thank you for such a well put-together exhibition, it was worth the scrummaging! :-)

Anne Day

I greatly enjoyed the Gauguin Exhibition. How interesting it must have been to organise it. I should have liked to have seen more of the Tahitian paintings, but appreciate that it must have been difficcult to obtain them. I note that several are in private collections and seeral in the Boston Museum. I wish to do some research on Gauguin as a Colorist. Would you kindly recommend the best books. The reproductions in the book I have - Gauguin by Charles Estienne - are quite good but I should like more technical information. How closely did Gauguin study the science of colour? Was he supplied with oil paints when in ITahiti? How did he use them? Greatly thinned down? What is the opinion to-day on how the colours to-day relate to those at the time of painting? At the Exhibition, I particularly enjoyed appreciating Composition as this cannot properly be appreciated in small reproductions. I am interested in researching the major influences on the painter. I shall be looking at Bernard as well as Pissarro and.........

jinti wight-boycott

I enjoyed the exhibition but agree that there were far many people let in at one time to view comfortably. I did find the captions sometimes confusingly situated. They were definitely too small. I know it was the end of the exhibition but many had deteriorated and were hard to read. Higher and larger please and maintained.

Steven Ramsden

I agree with the comments on the overcrowding and captions, but my chief problem was taking it all in at one go. I should have visited earlier and often.

Mark Ranger

Well, I was obviously not the only one a bit peeved about the layout of the exhibition. I am sort of surprised by people blaming the visitor numbers and faded type on the walls to their leaving it late. Surely, if this is a commercial event, these items should be taken care of by some kind of maintenance programme and the flow of people can be better regulated. I am not an artist, so I am coming at this from a purely commercial perspective. I wonder if there needs to be more balance between the two objectives? As 10cc once said 'Art for art's sake, money for God's sake' One cannot survive without the other, but surely they can respect each other a bit more?

Having said all of this, it was a very enjoyable experience, and one which I'd repeat - I think

Catherine Lafarges

I had no qualms about the layout of the exhibition however the captions were way too small for comfortable reading and there was a definite lack of large print explanations. Why not take heed of the Tutankamun exhibition where captions were set up on either side of the artifacts and above the artifacts meaning easy access for most viewers. The other disconcerting thing was the fact that some captions were miles from the actual item they refered to. But in the whole I loved the exhibition. Some of the artifacts (like the Becassine extracts) brought me back to my childhood (I am French and grew up with these books). I also loved being able to read Gauguin's letters and appreciate his beautiful handwriting. As for the paintings do they really need any comments?!! Thanks for the best 4 hours I have spent lately.

Dr Robin Hendy

My wife and I agree with most of the posts above. We went on January 7th at 2 PM so didn't expect we would have to endure the sort of extreme crowding that seems to have occurred (even more) at the end of that week.

Nobody else appears to have commented that the iPod Gallery Guides actually DETRACTED from the experience. I am an enthusiastic techie but my wife is the opposite. I had to spend a lot of time fiddling with her iPod to keep up with the exhibits. Worse, there were often movies and other images on the iPods that actually COMPETED with the artworks on the walls, diluting and detracting from the intensity of the experience.

If the captions MUST be low down on the walls to satisfy wheelchair users (is this a new EC rule?) then please can we able-bodied folk have nice LARGE, legible captions, at chest level, with perhaps an arrow to show the target of the caption so we don't have to guess.

PLEASE PLEASE will you consider re-printing the excellent Exhibition Catalogue which was sold out more than a week before the finish. I would love to buy a copy.

Conclusion: good range of Gauguin's works, rather spoilt by overcrowding and over-technical iPod guides.




Thank you for asking for comments on the Gauguin exhibition. For an exhibition of this kind, the labels are important, because you gave us a lot of interesting information on them. This time the labels were well placed - NOT at knee-height - and reasonably legible - font size was OK, though the contrast of print and background could have been better. What was less satisfactory was their positioning: when an exhibition is full, you have to follow the pictures round in sequence. The labels did not help this: sometimes they were on the left of the picture, sometimes on the right, so if you were following a sequence, you sometimes found the label before the picture (fine!) and sometimes after (not so fine!). And sometimes they were grouped so that the labels for three pictures were all together, and you had to try to remember them. Next time you label an exhibition, could you please think more about the viewers than the aestetic effect?

Arnold Bloomberg

We were extremely grateful to have the opportunity to see your remarkable Gauguin exhibition at Tate Modern. Obviously it was a victim of the popularity of the artist's work and overcrowding was to be expected. The only suggestion concerns the labelling which at times was difficult to find. Put each label next to the subject and use a larger contrasting bold font. As a French person, my wife was particularly touched by the letters. We wish you continued success with your future exhibitions. We would like to know the total number of visitors. We used the excellent Tate to Tate boat facilty , and enjoyed the Eadweard Muybridge photographic exhibition at Tate Britain. Sincerely Arnold & Josette Bloomberg

Jenny Elliott

I loved Gauguin's works of art and liked the layout of this exhibition. The crowds didn't spoil it for me and it was easy to look closely at the pictures. However, I do agree that the labelling made it difficult since often 2 or 3 paintings were displayed together and you couldn't tie them in with the paintings unless you went back and forward. Also although it was the end of the exhibition, I was surprised that the some of the labels were worn out and bits of print were missing. BUT I STILL LOVED THE EXHIBITION AS DID MY FRIEND WHO TRAVELLED ALL THE WAY FROM LANCASHIRE TO SEE IT!

Ozlem Yikici

I, like many people who visited the exhibition, enjoyed the experience -yes, it was overcrowded and at some point it was quite stuffy that some air circulation would have been great as this caused me to lose focus on the remaining works which was a little disappointing for me. However, it was great to see that Gauguin struggled to find his own style until quite late in his years. I was bemused to note that he attempted to work by adopting styles of the various impressionists (composition being the area he deliberately challenged) and he also tried very hard to encorporate lots of colours in his paintings which I found did not work for him but eventually he came to his own and his paintings in his later years shows that he learnt from his peers and became the artist we appreciate.

Up until the exhibition I never took an interest in Gauguin's work other than his relationship with Van Gogh however, this has enlightened me to his work and style and I can safely say all in all this was an interesting exhibitioned which showed the development of an artist through style and context. Thank you for showing us this side of Gauguin.

Roger Manning

I was disappointed by the Gauguin exhibition. I did not think that the thematic approach worked. While the range of the exhibits was impressive I felt many were important in illustrating the development of Gauguin's art rather than for their own quality, and the thematic organisation of the exhibition did not allow a clear sense of how his work developed. With regard to the contextual stuff in the side rooms sometimes less is more!

Brian Simpson

The thematic approach was a bold choice and for me not completely successful. I arrived with the expectation that I would "read” the exhibition in a chronological way, and so I was slightly disoriented. I also think that such an approach demands rather more reflection from the viewer and the overcrowding, the smallness of the rooms and the consequent difficulties in reading wall texts made this quite difficult. As a result my visit was less satisfying than I had expected.

Nonetheless, it was still worthwhile. I went back to look at his works in books and to think about them in different ways. Visually the works were stunning and seeing some face to face for the first time was a revelation. I was struck by the beauty of the figure in the bottom right of the "Green Christ”. But please look for ways to manage the crowd so that the works and the care of the exhibition layout can be fully appreciated.

Lilly lit

Fantastic exhibition!

I learned so many new things about Gauguin. His relationship with religions, with women and with his peers were original.

The thematic approach was great and so was the catalogue. Congratulations!

The last room as well and the landscape rooms were beautiful.


The pictures were wonderful. The layout of the pictures was curious along with the layout of the venue. There was a ruck at the entrance which rolled through the floor to the exit. A good example of how the above two issue were made to work was the Monet exhibition in Paris. In fairness they had a couple of floors to play with but the timed entrance was religiously monitored and it was all the more pleasant for it. PS: more qualified Bar staff in the members bit would be good. On Friday it took 20 minutes to get a bite to eat and a drink.

Kristin Rasmussen

Me and my 4 year old daughter looked forward to visit the show and we came all the way from Norway. However it was far too crowded! My daughter wasn't able to see anything due too the crowds. We both found this experience very stressful. Even if we'd like to come back very soon we're sceptical because we've been to a Tate Modern show earlier which was also overcrowded..