Why are we doing the Gauguin show? It is not simply because we’ve reached ‘G’ in the alphabet, it is part of a programme for Tate Modern to show the antecedents and foundations of modern art as we know it. Gauguin is one of those key figures, both for modernism and, I would say, for an anti-modernist, way of working. We have done a series of shows that have looked at the early part of the twentieth century, including the great Matisse Picasso show in 2002 and those shows that have paired artists, such as Albers-Moholy Nagy. But for me, this exhibition is very much a sequel to the Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris exhibition in 2005/2006, where we presented an artist who had been enormously influential on the next generation - Picasso, Braque and Matisse - but whose work was perhaps slightly hidden and forgotten, and set out to reveal the quality of that work. The exhibition showed his work in its social and political context, but also why it was important for that next generation of artists. There is often a question about when you do exhibitions. It is not simply Gauguin’s ‘turn’. We try to anticipate and to stimulate interest and hope that shows will come at the right time to spark a real reaction. We think it is the right time now, in part because of the way artists are reacting to Gauguin. In recent years, exhibitions such as those of Peter Doig and Chris Ofili at Tate Britain, have disclosed a renewed enthusiasm for Gauguin’s work. But there are other aspects. Gauguin is an artist who created his own persona and established his own myth as to what kind of a man he was. That is highly relevant when you come to think about an artist like Damien Hirst, or even Gilbert and George, or other artists who have created their own identity. So, I feel that this is a great moment to present a Gauguin exhibition, as it is something that seems very current.
Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate