Explore the Exhibition Introduction

Paul Gauguin Nevermore O Tahiti 1897

Paul Gauguin
Nevermore O Tahiti 1897

The Courtauld Gallery, London

Download the room guide in French / Télécharger le guide en Français

This exhibition takes a fresh look at the work of Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) by focusing on myth, storytelling and the construction of narrative in his life and art.

Gauguin began his career as an Impressionist, but while his fellow artists used painting to capture their fleeting glimpses of the physical world, he argued that art should go beyond material appearances. He developed a radically simplified visual language, cutting through superfluous detail in order to explore complex ideas and construct poetic meaning. His work drew upon and synthesised a wide variety of visual and literary sources, including non-western art forms, classical sculpture, popular prints and caricatures as well as philosophical and anthropological texts, ancient myths and the Bible.

His travels to the remote corners of the globe became the stuff of shrewdly cultivated legend, but Gauguin was also deeply immersed in the critical debates and social networks of avant-garde Paris. As well as the construction of visual narratives, the exhibition looks at his activities as a writer and journalist, and the ways in which he developed his public reputation and fostered discussion of his work.

Rather than following a strictly chronological sequence, Gauguin: Maker of Myth is organised according to thematic sections that emphasise the parallels between different stages in his career. Bringing together works made in Paris, Martinique, Brittany, Tahiti and the Marquesas, it traces motifs and ideas as they are revisited and deepened in objects and images that he produced years and many thousands of miles apart.

Gauguin Identity and Self Mythology Room 1

Paul Gauguin Tate Modern past exhibition room guide

Gauguin Making the Familiar Strange Room 2

Paul Gauguin Tate Modern past exhibition room guide

Gauguin Life and Times 1848–91 Room 3

This room in the Gauguin exhibition at Tate Modern brings together a selection of books, letters, photographs and other documentary ...

Gauguin Gauguin's Drawings Room 4

Information about the display of Gauguin's drawings in the Gauguin exhibition at Tate Modern

Gauguin Landscape and Rural Narrative Room 5

Paul Gauguin Tate Modern past exhibition room guide

Gauguin Sacred Themes Room 6

Sacred Themes room, Gauguin exhibition at Tate Modern 2010–2011

Gauguin The Eternal Feminine Room 7

The Eternal Feminine room, Gauguin exhibition at Tate Modern 2010–2011

Gauguin Life and Times 1889–1903 Room 8

Life and Times 1889–1903 room in the Gauguin exhibition at Tate Modern 2010–2011

Gauguin Gauguin's Titles Room 9

Gauguin's Titles room, Gauguin exhibition Tate Modern 2010–2011

Gauguin Teller of Tales Room 10

Teller of Tales room, Gauguin exhibition at Tate Modern 2010–2011

Gauguin Earthly Paradise Room 10

Paul Gauguin Tate Modern past exhibition room guide

See also

Gauguin Multimedia Guide and iPhone app

Listen to Tate curators sharing their expert views on Gauguin's work with the Gauguin Multimedia Guide and iPhone App