Tate Modern 10 November: Gauguin and Sunflower Seeds


So this was a nice day for a visit to the Gauguin exhibition, as I thought.  The first thing to strike me was that the painter looked like a Frenchman in his self-portraits.  Well, obvious enough when you think about it I suppose.

The second was that the visitors to the exhibition were rather older (by a factor of three or so) than those to the main collection–well, you had to pay for the exhibition…Then a lot of the paintings were pre-staled by familiarity–you’d seen them in reproductions and it seemed as though you’d always known them.

My companion felt that the Yellow Christ merely looked tired and I agreed that a nasty attack of jaundice would leave you feeling lethargic.  But in the very last room we were certainly impressed by the bare-breasted Tahitian maidens.

Joanne said that Gauguin got better as he got older [which is undeniable] and he was interested in his subjects as people, not merely as objects [which I have my doubts about–maybe you need ‘sex objects’ in place of ‘people’].

And after lunch we ended up returning for the porcelain sunflower seeds, all 100 million of them.

And this is the nearest I got to taking an unblurred close-up:

I was much more impressed by this:  in spite of having seen pictures in the papers, I still found the contrast between the detail and the mass fresh and unexpected, and the viewers were also much more like what I expected Tate Modern denizens to be.  Well done Ai Weiwei!  Well done Tate Modern!

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