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 


Nick Norfolk

Since it's such a blockbuster wouldn't it make sense to further extend opening hours? Obviously it costs money to open, but if opening more hours means more customers, surely it would be profitable rather than costly? I sometimes don't go to an exhibition at all when I know it's going to be crowded, so it's not that there's a finite audience that just squeezes itself into the available hours, there are more people that would come if it was made more comfortable! I agree Room 9 was a problem - small room with major paintings, causing major crowding issues. Also labelling especially with the objects in cases - label it on the case for goodness' sake! - certainly in an exhib this crowded, as searching for a label through crowds of bodies is a real drag! And yes, no pushchairs please!


The problem with exo,s (and sadly the Gauguin was no exception) is that it is about money ... when will this ever be the secondary thinking? Too many people ..too few exhibits..result, dismal.... nothing more to say... wont be back.

Piers Ottey

Not good. Too many works,badly hung. There was a group of works on paper all with mis matched frames looking shambolic. The frames themselves were appalling. No fault of the Tate but why owners should adorn humble pieces with extravagent antique frames I cannot imagine. Much more space needed for each painting. Much of the work looked lacklustre. A smaller group of more carefully chosen work, presented better with no inappropriate frames would have worked better. This simply did not look like a show by a 'great' painter.

Rudi Konrath

needless to say it is amazing, the works that is. the "themes" i am not so sure about, but this is the "zeitgeist"! Q: in room 2 two paintings: son and daughter; several people made the same comments whilst we were there, is the long haired child really the son and the one with the short crop the daughter? difficult to imagine a boy with that hair at that time. A: let me know!


Wonderful, I loved it more than I thought I would. As a member, I will go again. I also spent some time in Tahiti, and in the Marquesses, I went onto Gauguin tomb, so it made it even more special for me to see some of his paintings. I usually buy a book of the exhibition I visit, and I will do again for the Gauguin exhibition. But just a small critic, in the book, the paintings don't render the beauty of colors used by the Master, this is a real pity.

Josephine Swinhoe

I visited the exhibition last night - not too crowded, and we had plenty of time to moohc through and revisit the places which we found most interesting. Gaugin is not a favourite of mine but I thought the exhibition well laid out and enjoyed the thematic style. If I had one thing which would have imporved it for me is more clarity of the time line of the paintings within the themes - therefore possibly showing up his chanaging stle / experimentation through the years.

i will probobaly go back though as seeing it more than once enables me to see things I missed the first time

Shame about the long queue in the members room though - plenty of seating but slow service


I was there yesterday and think it's one of the best exhibitions I have been to in recent years. The curation is excellent: grouping by theme rather than chronologically helps make sense of a complex life, and the inclusion of so many of the objects depicted in the paintings helped bring them to life. The two rooms containing contemporary prints, letters and realia helped fill in the background and it goes without saying that the collection is amazing. I do have one gripe though: I went on a Thursday at 10.30 am and it was already overcrowded! There really wasn't the opportunity to vieew and consider the paintings as I would have liked and, inevitably, there was particular congestion around the exhibits featured in the audioguide. I know these big shows have to recoup their costs but it was disappointing to be there with so many other people and to be able to see so little.

Richard Hartung

Visited the exhibition twice. As a member I cannot tell you how easy it was to have two memorable visits to this event. Yes , it was crowded the first time, but my ease for entry was the big plus for visit one. Being a member let me visit yesterday for a more personal look at the carvings and later works through thematic collection. I even bought a poster! Well done.


Gauguin - Go again!

pam harmer

i really ejoyed the exhibition particularly as I had watched 2 programmes on his life and works on tv a week before so had some background information it was a bit crowded which detracted from the pleasure of the pictures however having booked dinner on the 7th floor made up for the negative aspects and we could discuss the exhibition in the comfort of the restaurant over looking the thames and st pauls- overall a fabulous night

mary f.

Well, it was an excellent exhibit. I liked the thematic groupings rather than a chronological order. And it increased my admiration for the most of the artist's work.

However, in my opinion, the exhibit was marred by the crowded atmosphere. These made it difficult to see many of the pictures and the queues to get in were also long. Fortunately, I'm a member which at least eliminated the queue to get tickets.

Eugene van Niekerk

I went on Friday afternoon, it was busy but I was able to see all the works and enjoyed it tremendously, but it is too much to take in, in one go, so I will go back again later. The exhibition is a mixed batch and one can see a clear development of his art through the years. I loved his charcoal sketches, his self portraits and the Tahitian women. I will definitely go back. Thank you to everyone who made this exhibition possible!

Mike Cockett

It was very crowded but given the publicity that's not surprising.

I was overall disappointed; although it was good to see some of the classic greats there was a lot of also rans which probably would not get space in a major gallery.

The lighting was subdued and many of the pictures seemed heavy and the colours lifeless. Not at all like the wonder of light and colour experienced when seeing the originals of some of his contemporaries.

Did Gauguin's choice of pigments result in darkening over the years?

Judith Cutler

Too many people taking photos - being short I saw a lot of other people's arms. And though the audio commentaries are useful, there's surely a lot to be said for herding people in for a talk first, rather than clogging up a very busy space - see others' comments - while they listened. It was wonderful to see such familiar works in the flesh, as it were, but the lighting really didn't do them justice. They didn't sing from the canvas.

Peter Wood

I purchased the catalogue for the Exhibition prior to visiting and am so glad that I did as it gave me so much more time to enjoy the paintings. (Bit annoying that it was cheaper in the shop than when I purchased it online). One thing I would have liked to see more easily however was the date the painting was done or perhaps Gaugin's age at the time it was painted to see how his work changed with time. The 3+hour journey to London was certainly worthwhile and I will be doing it again for future exhibitions and the permanent collection. I took two breaks during my 5 hour visit and the members room was a haven of escape from the crowd that grew as the day (Tuesday) progressed).

Ian Alexander

I went to the exhibition with Gauguin firmly classified under the "Attractive Women, Exotic, Tahiti" banner, and came out feeling that here was something rather different. Gauguin the self-inventor; the painter who did not join the Impressionists or the Pointillists, or any other group; the man, pleasure-loving and rebellious, with as much failure as success (and ultimately a sad, lonely end). It was a fine experience to see so many paintings and objects (the extraordinary door surround to his last house in the Marquesas!) with such helpful explanations. I suppose the tweet would be Sad Rebel Struggles Hard to Find Himself, Market, Fortune - or some such lame summary. Happily the Tate managed to make it a bit more interesting than that.


I went not knowing much about Gauguin's work. I thought the organisation of the exhibition waslogical as it allowed the viewer to see how he progressed as an artist. The information on his life in particular a stockbroker to salesman, the sculptor and eventually his disregard for rules was fascinating. This helped me understand what a genius he was. The satirical comic was brilliant. As for the paintings of the landscape and of still life these illustrated wonderful colour and design. The only snag is I would have preferred information about all the paintings in larger font. The integration of Art, history, politics, colonisation, economics was excellent in explaining his work.

B. Jones

my comments don't relate so much to the exhibit (though I find a chronologically based exhibit more useful for a single painter than a subject-based one) as to the way it was identified. The names and details of works tended to be grouped together (often in hard to access corners) whereas there was plenty of space beside the paintings. For the glass cases within the rooms (ceramics, generally) it was frequently all but impossible to find their description. Again there was no reason that could not have been placed on the stands. The rooms were crowded and the exhibit was made much less enjoyable by the task of searching for informarion which should have been easy to find.

David W

We are members because we like to dip into and revisit significant exhibitions. Hence this comment comes after a first taste which excluded the contextual, newspaper exhibits, which will be studied in later visits.

First impressions.

1. How relevant to our own time a. the imminent and important discussion we must have on multi-culturalism/integration and Europe's relation's with those cast as "savage" in earlier times.

b. spin and self construction.

c. finance industry employee escapes to "simpler" island communities (not Jersey).

2. Does it tell me more about Gauggin or the curators' views of him - subsequent visits will tell.

3. Trivially, I recollect Tahiti as less well lit with grander volcanic scenery!


After the disappointment of the Sunflower Seeds which have been sapped of their interactivity, Gauguin was another tremendous Tate exhibition...

I went last Tuesday afternoon and not surprisingly found it extremely busy. But, unlike the Van Gogh exhibition at the RA recently, here this didn't have too much of a negative effect...The flow of people was steady though you still had to keep your wits about you to avoid untimely ricochets off other visitors - even a couple of wheelchair users had enough room to negotiate the melee.

My only issue was with the set-up of the "Life and Times" rooms where double-backing was necessary - not an ideal layout for smaller rooms with large crowds, but the content was still high quality.

As were the paintings themselves whose vivid colours and delicate subject matter were extremely effective, and a delight to see up close. Overall, the works offered a poignant window on various worlds as viewed by a very interesting character whom I didn't know much about.

As for the Seeds, I'd suggest changing their layout at the end of each month to keep up the novelty factor. How about brushing them all together to create one huge "Seed Dune", or a series of different shapes? The vastness of the 100 million seeds would not be lost, and visitors could at least get a bit nearer to them and revive some of the exhibit's interactivity. On my visit, there were far more people watching the live dancers than looking at the seeds - unless something is done with them, that doesn't bode well for the next few months.

Jeremy Price

Really excellent - very comprehensive, and authoritative.

I left feeling I knew a lot more about the artist and his work - what more can I ask!

Only criticism would be of the crowds and sometimes stiffling atmosphere - but that simply was a factor of the popularity of the event itself.

Even though it was crowded I didn't feel rushed through.



Luckily had booked to come early on a day of bad weather which meant fewer people. I was able to see the exhibition without a crush. Although I understand the comment about it not being a show for immersion into Gauguin's created world, it offered something else: the context of his world and the connections between his work. I thought it was interestingly curated and our group of four - one French, one Tasmanian, two Brits - continued our discussions for some time after we had left.

Helen Edwards

I thorough enjoyed what I could see of the Gaugin - although there were so many people with sketchbooks in front of a lot of the pictures, that wasn't a lot.

I'm giving up with my membership. I just don't enjoy coming anymore, so I am not using it as I should - although that is not to say I won't come and pay for exhibitions I really want to see.

I came on a weekday when I hoped it would be slightly less crowded - but I couldn't even get in the front doors for the snakes of schoolchildren, let alone anywhere near the escalators - and god forbid you try and get near the lifts.

Even the members room was alive with children and rock music.

I appreciate that the Tate is getting people who would not have looked at pictures in the past to appreciate art (sort of - I had an older lady following my around demanding to know what on earth it was all about)- and that the whole place is a victim of its own success in this regard so it is a real conundrum - but I regard a visit with more horror than pleasure right now - so for the minute I'm afraid its bye bye.

Jeff Cooper

Curatorially this show is a mess. By arranging it thematically, there is no way to see the developemnt of Gauguin from his beginnings through to his luscious paintings from Tahiti. It is also too crowded to see anything properly without being very assertive, and I wasn't coming all the way from Lancashire to be denied a proper viewing (I realise the Tate want to make as much money as possible out of this show). The number and range of paintings was impressive.

hannah teare

terrific, wonderful. the colours were fabulous and it was great to see so many wonderful pieces together that are normally so dispersed. however we were not moved because of the man himself. obviously he was a bit of a shit!!!! most enjoyable exhibition though and i loved the ipod tour.

John Humphreys

This is a fabulously curated exhibition and Christine Riding and the TM is to be heartily congratulated. But the paintings? A heresy no doubt to criticize Gauguin but (in my view) a little goes a very long way; I'd far rather look at one fine painting by Gauguin in the context of other great works by other artists - as is supremely possible in the Courtauld Institute where Gauguin's 'The Dream' is juxtaposed with peerless masterpieces by Renoir, Cezanne, Monet and Manet. In the TM I do get rather fed up with the endless displays of nubile Tahitians..........sorry!

James evans

I was very disappointed with the facilities - having paid membership but not allowed to take a guest to tea. Gauguin was ok if you like that sort of thing.

Erica Stokes

I went to see the exhibition on 20th Oct. at about 12.30 It was not as busy as I expected. I enjoyed looking at his paintings which showed how his work developed and changed with time and learning more about his life. I was really interested in his woodcarvings and ceramics, and would have liked to have seen more. I will be going back again to see the exhibition. Congratulations Tate Modern

Clyde Alder

Hi, I enjoyed my visit to the Gauguin exhibition, flashing my membership card certainly made life easier.

I have visited many galleries in various countries, the Tate is definitely one of my favorites and the Gauguin exhibition was well laid out.

My only comment on a note generally is that is would be a nice touch to have labels in different languages

Adrienne Teague

Tate Modern's exhibition on Gauguin's work has inspired me in unexpected ways. His celebration of powerful, beautiful, strong yet soft women in all their truth has inspired a flow of ideas on work I can produce in the coming months. I am an ordinary person working full time in a corporate role; so to feel the juices of creativity rise within me this morning, after viewing the exhibition only last night is a real gift. The body of work on display was wonderful. Thank you Gauguin and all at Tate Modern.

Jeremy Wyett

To start with I would like to say that I am a member of the Tate and do enjoy what the membership has to offer. Now, this exhibition has been promoted heavily and I guess my expectations were too high or maybe I am not a true Gauguin fan but I did not really find it that exceptional. Agree with others who say the small writing on the wall by exhibits in an over crowded room are of no use. However, and it may have just been an off day, but the audio guides are terrible. The first did not work and the second was simply not right re the touch screen sensitivity. Why change from the old system that was simple and worked, type the number in and off you go...touch screens may appear great but this is one move I think you will regret with reliability.

Ivor Kirman

A once in a lifetime opportunity to see this spread of his work and I was both impressed and appreciative. But I do think that the curation got in the way. The grouping of paintings into topics only really worked well for the first "self portrait" section and , arguably, fir the landscapes. After that it was truly difficult to hold the time line in my mind as I went trhrough the subsequent rooms. By the time I got to the "Titles" group and the last room ("spiritual images"?) I felt that the "themeing" had become somewhat forced. This is sad as it results in some of my favourite paintings being displayed in the smallest rooms. When viewing the works of a life as complex and productive as Gauguin's, I would greatly prefer to see a chronological show with the art of each period being accompanied by text/pictures describing the key events in the artists life, in the artistic world in which he operated and in the poltical world in which he lived. By good fortune, I saw the repeat of a two-hour TV programme on Gauguin a few weeks ago which followed his natural time line. If I had not seen this, I would probably have been confused and/or frustrated by the approach of the Tate's curator. True all the information was there in the two side rooms, but a crowded exhibition is not conducive to popping back and forwards to check the chronology.

Shirley Klein

I visited Tate on 23rd October. I loved being in the space with so many interesting people. It was great to see children enjoying the exhibition. I left having gained a real insight into the painter and an appreciation for his art. There was a lot to take in and I would like to go back again. However at £13.50 plus train fare, I feel that maybe 'The Tate' are alienating a large proportion of society. I know this is inevitable, but it needs to be discussed. The exhibition was far too crowded, and larger print booklets would have been much appreciated.

Elizabeth Welch

I really enjoyed this exhibtion - seeing so many of Gauguin's works all in one place. The scenes from Tahiti and Brittany next to each other conveyed so much in terms of light and darkness - Tahiti was brightly coloured, exuberantly full of sky and palm trees; Brittany was dark and brooding, with a glimpse of sea but little sky. For me these two images captured something of the complexity of Gauguin's life and art.

I hadn't realised he started off as a stockbroker, or that he had a number of children with whom he seemed to have lost touch. I appreicated the holding together of different aspects of the life story - although the two smaller rooms with more detailed work about his life setting were too cluttered and hard to see.

Overall - great exhibition - especially the Tahitian women in their mysterious openness in the paintings.

Sue Hembry

Thoroughly enjoyed this comprehensive exhibition. The layout gave plenty of viewing room, except in the 2 side rooms. Some of the picture frames were worth a visit in themselves. Would it be possible to add information about them (whether original, designed by the artist, or some other well known artist, date, material, etc) to the descriptive labels in future exhibitions?

Elisabeth Knott

Marvellous! We went on Saturday 23 at 11.00. It was a little crowded but this didn't spoil our enjoyment. I agree with Neal's comments on the Van Gogh exhibition at the RA. The Life and Times displays were interesting, well put together and helped understand the man/the genius! I have always loved Gauguin and seeing so many of his paintings together was an absolute joy (one little criticism: the texts on the walls by the paintings could have been a bit bigger). I didn't know about his woodcarving, woodcuts, pottery etc. I learnt a lot and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Thank you.

Ian Holt

I visited on Saturday 23rd October - I was surprised by the amount of material displayed. I regretted not picking up the audio guide as in the controlled (low) light levels, presumably a conservation meaure, I had difficulty reading the information cards along the works. A type size up or two would have fixed this. (It is my age!)

Also while I see virtue in the thematic organisation of the works I found it hard to put them into a timeline - the drift in stye and interests of artists is of great interest to me.

However small niggles about a very good day out.



The exhibition looked good to me but I can't be sure as it was far too crowded to see much of it. As a member living locally I can visit again but it would be terribly frustrating for someone coming a long way and paying £13.50 not to be able to see the whole thing because there were simply too many people in the way.

Jane Bellord

I had the same experience as Chan, having booked tickets for Saturday at 11.30, I had expected there to be some control of when people went in to see this great exibition. But my experience was that tickets were not checked for times, and people were allowed to flow into the exibition, which got fuller and fuller so more impossible to enjoy, one freind just went straight through in 15 mins. then waited for us, while waiting he watched the que flowing through. It was very frustrating and a waste of time as we could not enjoy it with all these people.

Rebecca Townsend

I compare this exhibition and the peace and solitude that you managed at a Hockney exhibition some years ago and this one fell flat.

It was too full and this made the detail of the exhibition and how the paintings were grouped very difficult to follow.

I found I didn't really like Gauguin but perhaps that was more due to his character rather than the curation.

Regardless, the number of people allowed to enter the space should be reduced to a manageable level. I know every organisation in London is trying to increase income but you will put off repeat visitors if you don't address this issue.

Lynne Merry

I enjoyed the Gauguin exhibition but felt it was far too crowded. Whilst I applaud student visits to the gallery,it became difficult to read the info on the walls when several students were sitting on the floor below a painting. To be honest I was more intrigued by his life than his work.


Andy Wilson

I visited the show on a Sunday. It was way too crowded to be able to enjoy the show. I felt the hang was very conventional. I would have liked to have more space around the pictures. The lighting was unsympathetic to the colours. It seems to me that the hang should have presented the artist as a more modern figure: The Chris Ofili show comes to mind. Even though this show is in Tate Modern it reminded me of a show in Tate Britain or the National. I felt it wasn't surprising enough and didn't showcase Gaugain in any novel or revelatory way. Very disappointing. Crowd control is necessary. Also why was the phrase "Maison de Jouir" mistranslated as "House of Pleasure" instead of its real and more sexual meaning, which is illuminating and interesting in regard to Gaugain's personality, the soft soaping of Gaugain's sexuality in the show seems archaic in its coyness.


i visited early sunday and it was busy but not too crowded. the i-tour set helped to give more information, pictures and films. I was impressed by how much his work was influenced by marketing for his audience - a man of our times! I was left wondering how much of art is influenced by commercialism, idealism and the need for survival? But on the whole, never having been a great gaugin fan, I came away with a new respect for him

Jane Hall

We enjoyed the Gauguin exhibition hugely. I wondered if you had come across an artist called Arthur Heythorne Studd who was a friend of Gauguin and followed him to Tahiti to paint with him there. I have some drawings of his from this time very much in the style of Gauguin.


Pippa Banham

I knew very little about Gaugin, apart from the obvious, so the exhibition was a real education. It was very thoughtfully put together and a joy to experience. I did however get "exhibition fatigue" as it was so busy and hot but I will definitely be back for another visit to do it justice. Thank you! ps favourite painting was The Bathing Place

Richard Molyneux

The exhibition had the curate's egg about it. A lot of work and information gathered and provided - I came away knowing more about the man and the scope of his life's work. Downsides i)galleries so underlit as to exacerbate the claustropobic effect of wholly internal spaces. (A constant frustration at Tate Modern). Is it a condition of the lenders that the light levels have to be kept so low? ii) text to side of paintings not only set too low and printed too small for the dimly lit spaces but generally uninformative in relation to the paintings/ sculptures themselves - in comaprison to other exhibitions. Not everyone wants to be spoon-fed information via headphones at an art gallery - please give people choices. iii)Jury out over whether chronological display better than a thematic approach -but out of choice I would have prefered the former.

michelle clare

I have been to the exhibition twice now - both times very crowded, but I think that is testament to the popularity of the artist and the quality of the exhibition. One thing that would improve the flow of people immeasurably and would be very straightforward to do, would be to increase the font size of the type by the paintings. Currently people have to lean right in to read it, blocking the view for other people, which means that they have to wait longer to get a decent look and creates a bottleneck.

George Gammer

I was disappointed. The exibition was about Gaugin's self-mythologising - an early example of celebrity culture that, as always, trivialises the person and the work. I was looking for visual experience - for Gaugin the thrilling decorator of surfaces. He himself said about one of his works (quoting Malarme): "It is a musical poem and needs no libretto." We need another show thats cuts the crap and concentrates on the pictures.

Antonello Irace

Too crowded...

Richard Johnson

What a great exhibition. I was very impressed with way that curators presented the diverse range of Gauguin's work in such an accessible way.

Well done