Gauguin and the Pont Aven Group Tate exhibition 1
How it was done then: Tate's Gauguin and the Pont Aven Group exhibition back in 1966

I thought you’d be interested to see some photographs of the last big Gauguin exhibition in London, which was at the Tate Gallery, Millbank in 1966. It is amazing that these should be in our archive. The show, organised with the Arts Council, was called Gauguin and the Pont-Aven Group and ran from 7 January to 13 February.

Gauguin and the Pont Aven Group Tate exhibition 2
Installation view of 'Gauguin and the Pont Aven Group' 1966 at Tate

From the images, it looks as if the exhibition was staged in the Duveen sculpture galleries at Millbank (note the Henry Moore sculpture by the entrance of the exhibition!) And for those interested in wall colours, I’m guessing the whole show was painted white – very different from our exhibition here at Tate Modern.

Gauguin and the Pont Aven Group Tate exhibition 3
Installation view of Gauguin and the Pont Aven Group at Tate in 1966

I wonder if we’ll be able to find any images of the Tate’s Gauguin exhibition in 1955 – that really would be fascinating…


Evelyn Watzka

I was very happy for having got tickets online even short time before and so highly keen on seeing the exibition. Perfect the online booking with time slot! Friday 16 h it was more than overcrowded and sometimes impossible to have a look on certain paintings. A real pitty. Having been recently at Folkwang Museum in Essen to look the "Impressionists - Sights of a city" with wonderful - often natural- light in all the rooms - beautiful museum and exibition. I could not understand the bad light conditions in the rooms for Gauguins paintings. So the colours didn't come out in their brilliancy at all. After having visited the exibition we wanted to buy a DVD in German language but it was only availiable in English - no french, italian, spanish or any others language translation....? - why that? Little bit disappointed because of above mentioned points.


Interesting layout of the pictures, and I can't see any signs of labels next to them. The lighting seems very bright and quite harsh. Are they packed closer together than they are in the present exhibition? What was the thrust of the two previous exhibitions? And what was the critical reception like at the time?

Roy Rampling

Wonderful collection of works and interesting exhibitions. However, the overcrowding meant that it was extremely difficult to appreciate the work which was a real pity.

wendy colles

We visited on Saturday 6th November and like many other people found it very crowded and hot. The explanatory notes for each painting were ridiculously small and many were peeling off. Is this to encourage people to hire the audio tour? I always find it irritating to try and look at a painting whilst someone stands right in front of it listening to the recorded message, oblivious to anyone else, but that is probably a sign of my age. It was marvellous to see so many paintings, carvings and ceramics gathered in one place and I feel I now know Gauguin better and like him less as a person, but that is usually the case with great artists. A little mystery is a good thing.

We later went to the Cezanne exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery, a small, focussed display and much more pleasant to view. Whilst there we wandered into the Impressionist rooms and were delighted to "find" an unexpected, beautiful Tahitan Gauguin and an orchard scene. Happenstance is a delightful thing, I shall never forget coming across the "Vision after the Sermon" painting in the National Gallery of Scotland years ago and being bowled over by it when I knew little about the artist. So there we go, you never please everyone!

David Seddon

I visited the Gauguin exhibition on Thursday Nov 11th at about 1015. As fascinating as it was to see these paintings, the hang felt wrong and the oils could have been illuminated more dramatically. There a lot of visitors and although it was just about tolerable I can imagine the experience rapidly becoming unpleasant. As someone with less than perfect vision I always appreciate the large print guides that are usually available in such a show. There did not seem any!! I mistake, I think....

Paula Burnett

You may not have pictures of the 1955 exhibition, but I still have images in my head. My sister who was an art student took me to this, my first exhibition, at the age of thirteen and it transformed me. As a child who spent a lot of time drawing and painting it was a revelation to see the use of colour and form. I've never forgotten it. It was one of the great aesthetic experiences of my life.