As its title, Gauguin: Maker of Myth, suggests, the Tate show will tackle this charge head-on. Far from revealing any deep truth, were Gauguin’s images of the South Pacific really just contrived, faux-exotic picture postcards? The case for the prosecution is strong – take Noa Noa, his journal about life on Tahiti. The occult local legends it relates were actually lifted from a Dutch ethnographer’s accounts of the 1830s. Likewise, his renderings of “Polynesian” statuary were largely inventions, inspired by photographs of South-East Asian art he brought from France.


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