Art: Seeing Gauguin Whole at Last

A masterly exhibition corrects myths and moonshine about the pioneering painter

No great museum retrospective is just a matter of a "definitive" array of works, or of critical intelligence applied to them, or of a deep curiosity about the artist's life. It is a combination of all three, a vision of how they weave together -- the museum's equivalent of George Painter on Marcel Proust, or Leon Edel on Henry James. Once you have digested it, neither you nor the artist will be quite the same. You have seen the record set straight. Such events cannot be replaced by 50 Helgas.

The Paul Gauguin retrospective, which opened this week at the National...

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