Capps on Turner

“J.M.W. Turner,” National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Oct. 1-Jan. 6, 2008. See images of Turner paintings from the National Gallery’s collection.

In the Guardian Unlimited, Kriston Capps reports: “The Turner retrospective compares with another recent show at the National Gallery of Art: that of his less fortunate contemporary, John Constable. Constable plays the straight man to Turner’s comic. The former painted the everyday near his home in Dedham Vale, while Turner would nurse an image using his imagination to suit his needs – not merely in his epic or historical painting but in his land- and seascapes as well. Even the signature spackle of paint that Constable would apply to his canvas surface to evoke light seems to find a parallel better in Turner’s work: the mottle of reds and oranges he uses to evoke fire, sky and blood. Or subjects even more metaphysical, as in Death on a Pale Horse (1825-35)….The period that earned Turner so much derision – the sunset of his career, as it were – is one that has commanded tremendous interest from contemporary audiences. This retrospective reveals that Turner is more than a missing link. At a transitional moment in British culture and painting, Turner was a force of evolution.”

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J.M.W. Turner’s poetic visualization of British history

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