Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Gallery Visit

Applying paint has been low on the list of priorities this last few weeks for one reason or another. Last weekend I had the opportunity to get away for a couple of days, good boys get pass outs! I'd been keen to see the Turner and the Masters exhibition that is currently at Tate Britain.

The basic premise on which the exhibition is based is that Turner was an artist who publicly engaged with artists of the past as well as contemporaries in producing his work on his journey to the unique works that result from his innovative approach and desire to explore the very nature of Art.

Suffice it to say that the experience of seeing Turner's work hung next to that of his influences and competetive contemporaries is fascinating and the best I can do is to urge anyone who can to get there before the exhibition closes at the end of January. For those who can't the catalogue is a worthwhile buy from the Tate web site. The text is well researched and insightful, I won't try to emulate it here but advise that it is well worth your time and money to investigate this exhibition and its curation.

It was interesting to visit Tate Modern after a first viewing of the Turner exhibition. Here the main exhibit is called Pop Life and explores the relationship between art and art as a business. The theme was inspired by a Warhol quote, 'Good business is the best art'. Artists as brands underpins the selection of exhibitors, Warhol, Hirst, Emin, Lucas, Koons, Murakami are some of the people represented. Work varies from obvious commercialism to some challenging pieces that question taste and morality.

After that visit it was fascinating to return to the Turner exhibition and soak in his work along with the Poussin, Claude, Van Ruisdael, Rembrandt, Girtin, Wilkie and others.

The pictures I have posted are a very limited glimpse of the contents of the exhibition.

My reason for choosing the first one is twofold. Firstly, the building is one of my favourite places on earth and secondly it demonstrates the exquisite draughtsmanship of Turner early in his career.

Durham Cathedral - J. M. W. Turner

The next is one of the most influential pieces that Turner used for the purposes of learning, emulation and as a yardstick for his own work. The lessons from Claude's work prompted the exploration of atmosphere that was to become a Turner hallmark. (Apologies for quality of image).

Seaport - Claude Lorrain

The remaining images exemplify Turner's growing command of the atmospheric effects and vagaries of weather and it is easy to see the continuing influence of Claude as well as the work of the great Dutch painters of the sea, Van Ruisdael, Cuyp and Van de Velde.

Abingdon - J. M. W. Turner

Squall - J. M. W. Turner

Dutch Boats in a Gale - J. M. W. Turner

Sun rising through Vapour - J. M. W. Turner

Regulus - J. M. W. Turner

My final selection is the painting that is used in the Tate publicity material and is one that never fails to transfix me when I stand before it. It grabbed me for a good hour on this trip. The progression that took Turner from being a precise draughtsman to the visionary that could represent the elements in such a rendering is one of constant fascination. It does my soul good to have the chance of wallowing in such visual delights.
Time to get out the paints.

Snow Storm, Harbour Mouth - J. M. W. Turner


michelleFRANTOM said...

Thanks for that review. Turner is one of my favourites, difficult when you live on the south coast of Australia and don't get to many big exhibitions, let alone international ones. He was an absolute genius and one of those painters who lives outside of his own time. For me the later more abstract works are the best, all palette knife and glazes apparently.

Mick Carney said...

I agree entirely, later works are majestic. Get onto the Tate website and explore the stuff on there about the exhibition. There is lots of access to Turner images and hours of joy to be had there even if it's not the same as seeing the real thing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, Mick. Turner, Corot, Van Ruisdael are all strong influences for me. I regret that I missed the Turner exhibit when it came to Dallas a year or so ago. Must have really been something to see.