Fascination with Turner

Those of you who follow this blog know that I am a huge proponent of creating a painting with interesting shapes and strong value masses.  I was thumbing through one of my art books this past weekend and was captivated once again by the works of JMW Turner (1775–1851). His edges are very soft which immediately negates having interesting shapes, or even any shapes at all. And many times his value distribution is within a very narrow range.

Snow Storm- Steamboat off a Harbour's Mouth, JMW Turner 1842

So why do his paintings work? Simply  put, Turner eloquently talked with his brush. For sure he used a different language than mine, but it is one I can still embrace, understand and stand in awe.

Rain, Steam and Speed, JMW Turner 1844

My thoughts are he is trying to say more with less. Light, color and atmosphere is the subject. The vagueness of form engages the viewer to fill in the gaps and complete “the rest of the story.” The viewer is given a powerful invitation to bring his own interpretation of what he sees in the painting. The experience becomes very personal.

Anyone have other thoughts on Turner?


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4 Responses to “Fascination with Turner”

  1. Loriann Signori Says:

    Marianne, the Turner show was here in DC 2 or 3 years ago. It was amazing! I couldn’t keep myself away..like a mini addition. It’s funny the Hopper show was at the same time and it just didn’t resonate with me.(and i do like Hopper) Hopper was all about form..not color. Turner is all about color not form. Tuner’s work was spell binding.
    His watercolor series of the burning of the houses of parliament blew me away. I believe Turner witnessed the burning and that was the vision that lived in his mind as he created these watercolor masterpieces. He also used these as fodder for bigger oils. Amazing and all from a memory! Albeit a momentous one.

    • Marianne Post Says:

      Loriann: What a treat to be able to see Turners works up close and personal. I can certainly see the influence of his work in yours. Your sense of color and atmosphere resonant with ‘Turner-esque” qualities.

  2. Sally Chupick Says:

    Hi Marianne,
    Well sometimes i wonder if perhaps Turner had macular degeneration or some other sort of other vision problems that might have caused him to render his subjects in the vague manner he favoured…concentrating primarily on dramatic atmosphere and mood. Whatever the reason, he was a revolutionary, and who doesn’t love his work?

  3. Katherine Kean Says:

    I actually see interesting shapes and strong value masses when I look at Turner’s work. I agree that the expressiveness of the brushwork is significant!

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