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Paul Gauguin, the National Gallery and the philosophical conundrum of exhibiting immoral artists

What responsibilities do galleries have when they display work by monstrous creators?

By Daniel Callcut  

Gauguin in 1891.

On 11th October I appeared on a panel at the National Gallery to discuss questions of art and morality in relation to Paul Gauguin’s life and work. The gallery’s major new exhibition of Gauguin’s portraits rightly raises ethical questions with a now familiar ring. What should we say about Gauguin’s art in light of his despicable personal behaviour? What responsibilities do galleries have when they display the creations of artists who behaved in ways that are now criminal? Should we hold artists to the same moral standards…

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