J.M.W. Turner has been my second favorite artist** for as long as I can remember. That is to say, I don’t remember when he achieved that status or when I became fully aware of him as an artist. But it has been a long, long time.
I’ve seen works and exhibitions of his in museums and galleries in England (specifically the National Gallery and the Tate) and the US. But I was especially excited when I heard that the J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free exhibit was coming to the Getty Center. Even before viewing it I knew I would be seeing it twice.
My first visit was with members of the Culver City Art Group on March 29. As it was a Sunday it was pretty crowded that day. But it was nonetheless amazing to see sixty of Turner’s works… water colors and oils… all in one place. In a word: WOW!
A couple of weeks ago I received the movie Mr. Turner courtesy of Netflix. It seems to be one of those films people either love or hate. I am in the former category. I wrote a review for Netflix and included it at the end of this post for those who might be interested.
Tuesday of last week I made my second visit to the exhibit by myself. I took the Santa Monica bus #12 and the Metro bus #234 which stops directly across from the Getty Center. Entrance to the museum is free but parking is $15 per car. I paid a little over $2.50 round trip on the buses.
Although the exhibit was well attended, it was not as crowded as my previous visit on the Sunday. I was able to take my time studying each piece, getting up close enough to inspect the brush strokes and being able to stand far enough back with no bodies blocking my view. The second time around I appreciated the artist’s genius even more bearing in mind what I had learned from the film, the good and the bad.
From the Getty website: In his early twenties Turner’s focus changed to historical landscapes. These large-scale paintings became increasingly divorced from nature and featured the loose, luminous brushwork and abstract conceptions for which he became known.
At twenty-nine Turner opened his own gallery in London while also painting, exhibiting his own work, and teaching at the Royal Academy. A trip to Italy at the age of forty-four drastically altered his style, leading to his late emphasis on the power of color and light to create dramatic, evocative scenes. Turner’s body of work includes around three hundred paintings and over twenty thousand drawings and watercolors, the majority of which were given to the English government upon his death.
The Getty exhibit focuses on his output from the last fifteen years of his life. He died at the age of 76.
I wanted to know more about his work and was happy to find this video clip from a documentary produced by the National Gallery of Art:
After watching this clip I viewed Mr. Turner once more and then finished up my Turner binge with a second viewing of the documentary.
At this point I’m waiting for the biography, Standing in the Sun: A Life of J.M.W. Turner by Anthony Bailey to be released on Kindle. I put in my request on Amazon, so if it happens I suppose I will have to read it twice just for continuity. .
As I am a frequent visitor. I have a gazillion photos of the Getty Center but I recently splurged on a wide angle lens (Canon EF-S 10-18mm) so I wanted to try it out on architecture and landscapes. So here are some of those photos just wandering around and taking miscellaneous views.
**Having said that Turner is my second favorite artist begs the question, who is my first. That honor goes to Vincent van Gogh.
My Netflix review:
I’ve admired JMW Turner as an artist for as long as I can remember but knew little of Turner the man. After viewing the movie twice now I want to read a biography to get a fuller picture of him. I enjoyed the film because it showed different aspects of his life, including dividing his time between two households, his relationships with various women, his peripatetic nature, his involvement in the Royal Academy, his delight with all things scientific, his turns on the lecture circuit, etc. He was a complicated man of many facets, seemingly uncaring yet emotional, cruel yet kind, which was well explored in the film. As he grew older he became more eccentric. The art direction and photography in the film were beautiful, alluding to Turner’s own work. One reviewer complained there was no story (as a basis for a bad review). Most people’s lives are linear, one day at a time, and that is what this film is about: snippets of days in the life of an uncommon human being and exceptional artist.
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