Gauguin: An artist for today
Say what you like about Paul Gauguin - the egotistical, self-publicising, ruthless, philandering lothario with a penchant for young girls - the man could paint. And sculpt. And draw. And write.
Tate Modern's retrospective of the French post-impressionist opens on Thursday and features all these aspects of his work. Unsurprisingly, it is the sizeable collection of his paintings that lights up the show.
Seeing them at close quarters, you realise how influenced he was by Degas: the photographic crops; the thick black outlines; the fascination with young women.
In fact, when Gauguin was doing a stint as a stockbroker - a job Jeff Koons did at a similar age and stage roughly 100 years later - he acquired an artwork by Degas, who then returned the compliment when Gauguin started out by buying ten of his.
It is not really possible to appreciate what a brilliant colourist he was - as is also the case with Francis Bacon - until a roomful of evidence is before your eyes.
Or to witness just how influential he was. And not only on the expressionism of Van Gogh (who called him "the master") or on the saturated colours of the fauves (Derain, Matisse), but with his fantastical narrative imaginings that foreshadowed the work of the surrealists some 30 years later. The most unexpected outcome of seeing an early preview of the exhibition, though, was how contemporary Gauguin feels.
He left Paris for an artists' colony in Brittany because he was fed up with city life and its capitalism, greed and obsession with technology.
He yearned for another way of living and harboured romantic ideals that resonate in today's nu-folk movement. And his otherworldly imaginings, designed to escape the pervading doctrine of realism, can be seen in the resurgence of interest in vampires, science fiction and the Other.
And his work continues to influence artists today. Chris Ofili, Peter Doig and Fiona Rae are all signed-up members of the Gauguin Appreciation Society. But there is one big difference.
Contemporary artists nowadays, even those on the B-list, are able to make a handsome living out of their craft. Those on the A-list are millionaires. Van Gogh famously died penniless and Gauguin wasn't that much better off.
Here's my report on the Gauguin exhibition for last night's news:
And an interview with Gauguin's great-grand-daughter as well as the curator of the show for this morning's Today programme: