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His pioneering work with colour and form make the Tate retrospective long overdue.
With his patches of strong, undiluted colour, it was but a small step to Matisse – and the rest, as they say, is art history.
“He’s not a seer, he’s a schemer,” one-time mentor Camille Pissarro railed, arguing that Gauguin never really lost his capitalist streak; that with his paintings of sun-soaked islands, Gauguin was just cashing in on the Parisian bourgeoisie’s fondness for all things “other”.
As its title, Gauguin: Maker of Myth, suggests, the Tate show will tackle this charge head-on.
They’re fit for greetings cards, fridge magnets and hotel-wall reproductions, but no longer for inspiring the wow factor.
Gauguin, by contrast, was too much of a cad in life to ever reach such heights of commodification in death.