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 

Comments

Jana Kapralikova

I visited Gauguin exhibition on Saturday October 30. I think that exhibition is well layed-out and pictures nicely groupped together as per themes. However I agree with comments from other visitors that the exhibition was too crowded and not well air-conditionned and therefore I did not really enjoy viewing pictures for longer time and run through exhibition in less than 1 hour. But I bought a book from exhibition and will enjoy some pictures while reading the book. I would still recommend to limit number of visitors for each entry to smaller number or at least enhance air conditionning.

Liora Victor

I found the thematic approach rather artificial. I am reasonably familiar with his work but I would have preferred a historical approach. Curators need to understand that exhibitions such as this are for the general public, not academics in possession of some sort of arcane knowledge.

Tom

Loved it, huge fan, not quite as aesthetically pleasing as Van Gogh but good to know Pissarro taught the pair a thing or two, where would modern art be had he not? Where was 'The Dream'? Did the Cauthauld only think one across the river was fair...?

sydney klugman

Iwas intrigued by my ambivalence towards Gaugain as the age old conflict between the man and the artist- between the private and the public. I was fascinated by Guagains use of colour which hovered somewhere between Post Impressionism and Fauvism. His symbolic use of colour as depicting reality in muted tones and fantasy or ideas as synthetic vivid tones, particularly his painting of Jacob wrestling with the angel. I was reminded of D.H. Lawrence when he depicts the fox as part of his depiction of "inocence"? His woman as idealised figures or not. There is always questions I am left with after visiting Guagain. I am finally left with a sense of detachment and wonder if Guagain was ever able to feel any real feelings for his subjects outside the canvas.

Susie Merry

Enjoyed the content very much, but found the experience as a whole tiring and frustrating. Visited yesterday, Friday at 2.15, it was so busy that spent most of the time just standing waiting for people to move. The space didn't flow, and worst of all was the impossibly small script,(my eyesight is fine), some of which was confusingly placed that meant everyone was huddled round desperately trying to read it.

Barry Lewis

Excellent and highly interesting exhibition bringing together works from all over the world. I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of artefacts and pictures such as the large beer mug appearing in the picture of Gauguin's daughter. I found the 2 smaller rooms with a history of the time so far as Gauguin was concerned extremely informative. As I always think of Gauguin in relation to Tahiti it was refreshing to see the extent of his other work and its variety of art forms - I diod like the figure of Oviri. I agree entirely with one comment from someone else to the effect that it was confusing having 2 pictures explained on the same identifier. On the other hand I found the little free booklet very helpful although it took me time to find the 2 Eves which were not identified as such but fairly obvious when one looked but by that stage I was approaching intellectual overload! I also thought that too many people were being allowed in each half hour - I went at 11.30 and it was seriously crowded not only with people admiring the paintings but with people sketching them and therefore taking up space whilst others concentrating on their video commentaries were oblivious to other people round them added to others who just stopped in small groups for social chats. It is impoossible to cater for everybody and you need customers to balance the books so I would have thought longer opening hours with groups every 45 mins could help if practical. It takes at least an hour to an hour and a half to see the exhibition half way properly and therefore if fresh people come in every 30 minutes there are bound to be people jams. Conratulations on a wonderful exhibition. People or no people it was terrific experience and most informative. I certainly came away much more knowledgeable than when I came in. Thank you for making it possible to see this wonderful collection of Gauguin's work. Incidentally I was perfectly happy with the order of the works.

Barry Lewis

Excellent and highly interesting exhibition bringing together works from all over the world. I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of artefacts and pictures such as the large beer mug appearing in the picture of Gauguin's daughter. I found the 2 smaller rooms with a history of the time so far as Gauguin was concerned extremely informative. As I always think of Gauguin in relation to Tahiti it was refreshing to see the extent of his other work and its variety of art forms - I did like the figure of Oviri. I agree entirely with one comment from someone else to the effect that it was confusing having 2 pictures explained on the same identifier. On the other hand I found the little free booklet very helpful although it took me time to find the 2 Eves which were not identified as such but fairly obvious when one looked but by that stage I was approaching intellectual overload! I also thought that too many people were being allowed in each half hour - I went at 11.30 and it was seriously crowded not only with people admiring the paintings but with people sketching them and therefore taking up space whilst others concentrating on their video commentaries were oblivious to other people round them added to others who just stopped in small groups for social chats. It is impoossible to cater for everybody and you need customers to balance the books so I would have thought longer opening hours with groups every 45 mins could help if practical. It takes at least an hour to an hour and a half to see the exhibition half way properly and therefore if fresh people come in every 30 minutes there are bound to be people jams. Conratulations on a wonderful exhibition. People or no people it was terrific experience and most informative. I certainly came away much more knowledgeable than when I came in. Thank you for making it possible to see this wonderful collection of Gauguin's work. Incidentally I was perfectly happy with the order of the works.

Barry Lewis

I have no idea why my earlier comments have been posted twice - sorry about that

Tom McCaughey

Starting with the self-portraits was brilliant, but the continuation of a thematic rather than historic grouping was less successful. Seeing how the artist developed and how his work developed chronologically, from the first through subsequent trips, would have been of greater interest. The historic material was most interesting, but the rooms were too small and crammed with material.

Fran Boardman

Loved the exhibition, but it was impossible to view properly with so many people. And even though I took my (quiet) baby during a week day in the hope of not annoying too many people, I was pretty appalled by the number of visitors who pushed me out of the way, glared at me and told me I shouldn't be there. I'm aware that babies take up more space, but am I actually supposed to limit my outings to the park and mothers' groups? Well done Tate for this fabulous exhibition, but any chance you could do family only sessions?

anita gwynn

Loved the exhibition. same as the above...quantity and quality. It was very crowded and I think I will have to return...anxiety around standing too long in front of paintings!

Marco Wolf

Hi Christine I loved the thematic approach. I thought the expo was really well curated. There was enough chronology to keep a sense of progression but it wasn't allowed to dominate. Liked the idea of putting the two 'background' rooms (3 & 8) back to back, having first meaningfully divided his life into two parts. Also liked rooms like Titles & his female figures very much. It made me see his life (& especially his creative life) from his perspective, rather than through the eyes of the critics only. At first was disappointed that the stormy relationship with Van G occupied so little space, But that would have made it VanGogh-centric, so you did well to resist that tendency. That must have taken some courage. Well done. Overall, am left with a residual sense of sadness at his isolation, as with Van G. Do take comfort, tho, at the thought of what G would have made of this expo. He would have been openly erascible, but secretly delighted. Although a criterion like this is impossible to evaluate, it is nonetheless worth saying.

John Tyrrell

Fascinating exhibition. Would love to see it again. Very crowded - but that is a sign of how good it is. I would hate to have missed it, and despite the crowds would recommend others to go along.

Paul Wakefield

As others have said, too crowded! I expected the inconvenience of having to travel all the way from Bath with the aim of arriving for a 30 minute slot to be balanced by having sensible visitor numbers at the exhibition, but this wasn't the case. A rather tiring stressful exhibition to visit.

neil chalmers

We took our grandson to see the exhibition yesterday. It was crowded although not impossibly so, but was hot and still had too many of the rampant schoolchildren not seeing that others were equally important as them and the pink and sweaty babies weeping their way around in large dangerous strollers accompanied by spatially unaware mothers in a panic, presumably that they couldn't understand their infant's view on Gauguin's philosophy. In line with many of your other bloggers,the "curating" aspect and its clear focus on academic career progression for the curator, really don't add to the experience. The audio stuff only makes for log jams of control clickers who disturb the simple viewer's pleasure and generally seems to coccoon the audio user against any sensitivity to those perhaps more informed or self confident art lovers who surround them. I for one love to just look at the pictures absorb the artist's character, style and methods and then pick up all the academic stuff from the generally beautifully produced catalogue. The whole experience seems to be rapidly progressing along the track to predictability, political correctness and readily absorbable pablum for the "people". However, lunch with a delightful glass of Manzanilla, a tour around the permament exhibition spaces pleasantly devoid of too much guff, did add up to a memorable experience for both the old gits and the young budding artist-who has been drawing wondrous stuff ever since. Something is going right, it's only a question of working out what it is. Over to you Serota!

Peter Jones

Actually, I did not find it to be too crowded - and was there a little while after Paul. It must be a challenge getting the numbers right. Showed yet again the benefit of being a member. I ended up not liking Gaugain as a man. Seemed to have a high opinion of himself and a low one of others. Was his mythology about Tahiti his own creation or was there any historical evidence of it. Liked his Breton paintings; liked the colours and vibrancy of some of his Tahiti paintings. Not sure how well he painted the women of Tahiti - did they all lack waists?! He seems to have gone a little strange towards the end of his life there - the entrance to his house for example with its deliberate attempt to offend others. Liked his still lifes with the external observers in the corners or even more prominent.

anthony o'brien

We visited on Saturday 16th October at 2.00 pm and agree with many other comments that despite having a timed entry slot the exhibition was far too crowded,including huge pushchairs and the paintings very close together making it a rather stressful experience. However the digital handset information was excellent.

john everett

You are lucky to live close enogh to "dip in and out". When you have to travel 150 miles to see the show - and the ticket is a small part of the overall cost - then it would be good to have a better controlled environment in which to see the work.

Gill

Enjoyed the content of the exhibition. Please spare a thought for those of us who have less than perfect eyesight and put information about exhibits in much larger print at two levels to cater for those who are tall and those who are smaller or who use a wheelchair this will also alleviate the crowding.

john everett

Dear Harry Belthorpe I agree with all you say, but I fear I may be some sort of "lefty" myself. We came a long way to see and I mean SEE, not read about, this exhibition. Too crowded and too hot. Two too many prams being pushed aimlessly, one by a woman with a very startled expression. Views always interrupted by others and we were continually aware of disturbing others' sightlines too. Really glad I saw it but can't say it aws enjoyable, unlike the van Doesburg exhibition which was more lightly attended and was a pleasure.

Laura

I really enjoyed viewing Gauguin's exhibiton and was amazed by the amount of work shown. I am doing a review about this exhibtion at the moment for my 2nd year at University and I am very much interested in how it was curated, in a comment above here Belinda Thomson is mentioned and I was wondering if she or any of the other curators would give me some information on how they curated this overwelming exhibiton. Thankyou. Laura.

Joy Himsworth

One thing that is just so great about being a Tate member is the opportunity to visit an exhibition again and again! I went relatively quickly around it for the first time on Saturday and I intend to return to it over the next few months hopefully at a quieter time. The thrill for me is seeing so many of his works in one gallery at one time - so I always look at the many places that each work comes from and feel grateful to see things that would normally require traveling huge distances. SO thank you! (I also enjoyed the download that I was able to access on my i phone)

Frederick Skelton

A good show but too bloody busy. Should be a lot fewer people per viewing. Captions unsatisfactory.

Hazel O'Hare

Loved the paintings, but the captions are very poor: too small, not near enough some of the works they describe and the print is wearing off already. A lot of the documents/photos in the glass cases are fascinating, but the captions for these, although numbered, are not ordered in the same way as the items they refer to, so you can't look at caption and item at the same time.

Paul Raven

Positive: Amazingly prolific; thought that some of the sculptures were up there with Picasso; the time line exhibits were excellent.

Negative: Thought there should have been more works from his time in Arles with Van Gogh; too many people at the beginning; the toilets are disgusting - you really need to improve these in such a fine building.

Simon Crow

Compendious shows such as this often give me indigestion, and somehow diminish the artist; the impact of major works can fade when they sit among throat-clearings, studio sweepings and other marginal work. But this was riveting. The gauntlet of self-portraits was fascinating, and from then on my fascination just grew. Yes it was much too crowded. Yes it was badly ventilated. I do feel for any visitor who is only able to visit once. Yes perhaps some of the supporting material was unnecessary, tendentious or unrevealing. Yes perhaps the works could have been grouped on different principles with just as much or more profit. But what a privilege and a pleasure to be able to walk through room f those works, to see them vibrate against each other until the resonance was almost ecstatic. I've always found Gauguin a bit of an enigma, but to walk through this exhibition felt like walking through his imagination. A profoundly rewarding revelation, however we might cavil.

Barbara Jeffrey

From experience we have learnt that room 1 will always be crowded, so we ignore it to begin with and come back later. In this instance, it was perhaps a mistake to have Manao Tupapau just where people with the commentary want to linger. Elsewhere some of the labelling was out of sync.

Having said that, this was an excellent and thought provoking exhibition even for one who is not overly fond of Gaugin's exploitation of young women.

Rita Fennell

I visited yesterday early morning ish and had hoped for a quiet view, no chance but there you are it's great that art is so loved. It's huge, I was suffering from viewing fatigue around Room 4 so zipped around the last bit and will do again in the coming weeks.

It's kind of overwhelming to think of all these paintings by one major artist in one place, how would he feel to see his life's work gathered in one place was what I kept thinking.

I liked the thematic approach it was good to be able to compare different ideas especially about self portraiture. The contextual contemporary newspapers were a good dimension but somehow a bit disconnected, the woodcarvings and pottery gave me a better feel of what Gaugin's reality was as a practising artist.

I'll be back.

D M

The show, the art, is good.

Unfortunately there were so many people in there that I found the experience to be less than enjoyable and left after 10 minutes.

A real shame.

Amanda

I visited a few days ago. It was far too crowded, hot, noisy, unpleasent - so I only stayed 40mins, I hope to return. In spite of that the mastery of Gauguin glowed in his extraordinary works. I am not a fan, but could not fail to be spellbound. Re the Curating - the themes sort of work - particularly the first room of self-portraits. I really liked the side room of history and artifacts. The lip-service to the seedy side of Gauguin, whilst excusing him because he was a genius was insipid. These blockbuster exhibitions need to be careful, because people will stop going if they are such an unpleasent experience. A Country member

Graham Kidd

I agree with this comment. I wished, as I was going round this otherwise very exciting exhibition, that there was very little on Gaugin's artistic influences, and indeed who was directly influenced by him, and I wonder why this is. I would also make a plea on behalf of oldies such as myself for the labels to have larger printing.

Kevin

Annoyingly it was far too busy to enjoy the show, really stressful actually and I went on a normally quieter saturday evening. In fact i've nearly stopped going to the Tate for any of the big shows and next year I think i'll cancel my membership. Can't you open more evenings during the week like the Pompidou in Paris?

Mundher Adhami

Not a frequent visitor to art museums, and just became a member. Gauguin exhibition yesterday was a very satisfying experience. I think the thematic arrangement of the rooms was a great help, so are the insightful rich texts, and the context/ documentary rooms. The fact that objects Gauguin used in the paintings were also physically present echoed the way he himself included them, and how he humanised the still life painting. That is apart from discovering a painter (plus) with such rich and warm approach, colours, and human interests in the primeval.

You cannot do anything about the crowds, problem of success.

I appreciate the members' room, food and the balcony.

Phil Abbey

I thought Gaugin has a great pallette and a real sense of composition, although I'm not salways sure about his subject matter. When it clicks, though, when he gets it right, his paintings have a real power.

Adran Turner

We visited yesterday, Sunday 17th at 1030am. It was busy but not crowded and because the rooms at the TM are so vast it was never as oppressive or as hot as Van Gogh at the RA. We had booked tickets online 10 days before and asked for the tickets to be mailed to us. They never arrived, so we printed up the confirmation email and presented this at the ticket desk. No problem. We thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition, especially the Tahitian paintings, which are truly fabulous, none of which had we seen before in their 'original' versions. Next week we are flying to Tahiti for our sixth visit so this was in the way of prep!

Margaret Gwen Mann

Having just become a member I went to the Gauguin exhibition yesterday. I knew little about the artist and was, therefore, very pleased to find that the exhibition provided such detailed information about him. I liked the way the format organised in themes. Although I was not a great admirer before I appreciated seeing particularly the wonderful paintings depicting Brittany and the rural community but was overwhelmed by the vibrancy of colour in his South Sea Island pictures. I look forward to the next one!

John Byford

Congratulations to the Tate for bringing together so much of Gaugain's work. There was more than enough for 2-3 exhibitions and by the last three rooms we were left thinking it might have been better if there had been more than one exhibition.

Leaving aside the usual quibbles of too many people (and surely the time has come to bar monster buggies, especially when occupied by vexatious and over stressed little 'uns) the exhibition fails because of the thematic arrangement. I didn't want to see all the self portraits in the same room - I wanted to see them in context with the other work he was engaged upon at the same time.

And please please please use larger fonts on the picture descriptions - and place the descriptions next to the paintings, thank you.

Nicola

What a terrible shame that this exhibition was so crowded. We were pushed and shoved and there were so many people trying to see the paintings and read the narratives that it was impossible not to feel rushed. I think it's unacceptable of the Tate to charge £13.50 per ticket while cramming in as many people as they possibly can. Though many people want to see an exhibition like this, the result of hurding so many people through at once is that no one has the opportunity to really appreciate or take in the work. I left disappointed and frustrated - it felt less an exhibition than a money making opportunity, I'm afraid - despite the thought that went into it.

I also agree with the lack of criticism directed at Gauguin. No questioning of the deeply sexist implications of the 'eternal feminine'; no calling him to account for the racist undertones of his work - or even posing the question; in short, no critcism directed at the myths the man was making.

Alexandre Tisso...

Hi,

Since I lived in Amsterdam for a number of years I was familiar with the works of Paul Gaugain's work next to Van Gogh's. The show at the Tate is much larger, involved and critical than any I have seen. By critical I mean that the catalogue articles are fresh, insightful and highly stimulating. It was very busy yesterday so the crowds made it a challenge to see everything at a measured pace. Nonetheless, this was an excellent exhibition and all those that contributed should be warmly congratulated.

Kind regards Alexandre

David Jeffreys

I quite agree and have emailed Christine Riding direct about the size of the captions - a struggle to read them at all with many others vying for a position to view the picture and, even when you find a space, you still have to get really close. And captions in pairs can take some working out. Plus the fact that captions for sculptures etc are on the nearest wall rather than the base of the exhibit - not always easy to identify what goes with what. Sorry to carp.

David Jeffreys

Anne Bonger

Hello Christine, I find the Gauguin exhibition fascinating and very informative. Though I was fairly familiar with his Tahiti work, I was less aware of his work done in Britanny which I found just as lovely. It was good having some context of his life and the influences on his work. Though I'm more used to seeing exhibitions where works are displayed chronologically, the thematic presentation worked well too. The approach to the artist's life wasn't sensationalist, which is helpful. My son, who is an art student, loved the exhibition and enjoyed the sketches and drawings as well as the paintings. My only quibble is the show was packed, but then this is to be expected on a Saturday afternoon. Thanks for such an inspiring exhibition. Anne

Joanna

I agree about the crowds. I know Sunday is a busy day but it was really difficult to see the pictures as a whole without being jostled or pushed and it felt very claustrophobic at times. As to the exhibition, I left disliking Gauguin as an artist and a man. He went to both Brittany and to Polynesia with classist, racist and sexist stereotypes, which for the time and his background is understandable, but which did not change with experience. In Tahiti,he continued to impose his vision of a pagan paradise despite what he found there even making up the theology to create this world he wanted. He used and manipulated people. Being nice isn't part of being an artist but I felt he was contriving mystery and exoticism for his own gain. The landscapes are the best - large rich blocks of colour. But give me Matisse or Cezanne any day. I was glad to have had the myth of Gauguin exposed!

Annabel Iglehart

Dear Christine, Thank you so much for bringing together such a fantastic variety of Gauguin's work. A truly wonderful experience to see so many classics. That said, I have to agree with some of the earlier comments and was disappointed not to learn more of Gauguin's artistic development. The themes didn't really work as well for me and the audio guide was the least interesting and informative of audio guides which I normally find so illuminating. While there was some content, I was surprised not to see/read/hear more of Gauguin's important contribution to the post-impressionist movement. Perhaps there were just too many themes to allow the right level of detail for me. However, I'm sure I'll be making at least one more visit to see the great works. Kind Regards, Annabel

JEnnifer Harkins

I visited the exhibition last FRiday at 3pm with my husband. The place was absolutely heaving and there was hardly any breathable air left in the galleries. Plenty of bugs no doubt and I am now in bed with a stinker. Also thought the lighting was too dim, so the overall impression we came away with was one of oppression. Too many paintings, and what a beast Gaugin was. In all there are about a dozen pictures that I might actually want to live with - including the one from the Royal Scottish Museum which I have known since childhood.

Not sure if I can summon the energy to go back - will there ever be a quiet time to go?

Gerlinde Behr-J...

Dear Christine, The more I read or learn about him, the more mysterious he becomes. Given all those ideas in his head, the contemporary artists he knew and exchanged ideas with, the art dealers he was in contact with, G. was really an early master of spin. Even though I do not agree to the way he arranged his private life (leaving family and wife) and then immersing him so totally into the Tahitian culture (sampling so many girls) I suppose it is just was what men did then - and still do nowadays. However this does not make his art less interesting and attractive. Had he lived a few years later, he undoubtedly would have been the first one to paint feelings - as did Kandinsky. I found the audio guide informative and the catalogue very interesting. I will certainly re-visit the exhibition again when next in London. Thank you for bringing this exhibition to London. Gerlinde

David Pike

How lucky I was to come on the Friends' private view at 8pm. I have had little prior exposure to Gauguin and cannot say i warm to his work. For me the test at blockbuster exhibitions is how many paintings would I like to take home. Whilst the answer was few, the preference was towards those of Brittany. I am not a fan of hanging by theme and prefer chronological order. The most impressive thing was the pulling power of the Tate in borrowing from overseas which is why this exhibition is a must see for anyone interested in art, including me.

Laura

Dear Christine,

No need to repeat what others said in various complimenting words. However, I felt very bothered by the masses that were pressed through the exhibition. Having booked slots, I was expecting a little freedom for the eye as well as the ear, but unfortunately did I have chatty masses of people, standing so close to the paintings, that it didnt allow others to participate. There was little room for individuals to take some time and reflect or absorb, it was relativelay noisy and I expected a little bit more from the Tate modern.

On the contrary, I do want to congratulate on the very nice presentation and frames of the exhibition halls.

Thank you for bringing this experience to London.

Barbara Solomons

I have spent the past half-hour reading members' views on the Gauguin and I agree with those who said it was too crowded - what do they expect with so much hype! Twas ever the case. The captions are too small and the free booklet is a copy of what is printed on the wall in each room. However, who are we to judge the lifestyle and subject matter of an artist, if he can produce such colour and composition. I never use the headset as I like to make my own decisions, and I also find all that fiddling around with buttons distracting. Personally, I would have liked to make some notes and sketches - as an elderly art student, I find copying and making colour notes very useful. As an artist, he is perhaps not one of the greatest but his background and lifestyle make him more of a crowd pleaser as his life was so exotic and disturbing. Please, Tate, get everyone to turn off their wretched mobile phones before they go in - some use them as cameras which we know is streng verboten but some people will never be told. We all know people who go to a blockbuster exhibition for the wrong reasons. I never regret being a member of Tate as it certainly means you can return as often as you like to the exhibitions. Let's not forget that there are other perhaps more wonderful works of art on show permanently which may not be so popular - if it's free and not so crowded why bother?

Chan Loong

Unfortunately, I went on a very busy time of the day. It was too crowded and a bit too humid. I spent 15 minutes in the exhibition with my partner and decided that we should return during the weekday or late evenings on Friday/Saturday.

Ann Fry

We visited on Saturday 16th at 1.Pm. I expected it to be much more crowded and was pleasantly surprised. The pictures were spread out and easy to view. There was enough information .The only negative comment is about the heat - it was SO HOT (uncomfortably so.)A very enjoyable exhibition.

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