J. M. W. Turner: Painting Set Free

Edited by David Blayney Brown, Amy Concannon, and Sam Smiles. Getty, $49.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-60606-427-6
This meticulously annotated catalogue accompanies a remarkable exhibition of Turner's late work showing in 2014–2015 at the Tate in London, the Getty in Los Angeles, and the de Young in San Francisco. The catalogue includes extensive individual descriptions for each of the works that make up the exhibit providing historical, cultural, technical, and biographical context for the works that make up the exhibit, along side color reproductions of each work. In addition, five essays shed new light on Turner's later years as a man and an artist. Art conservationists and practicing painters will be fascinated by Amy Concannon's detailed essay on his virtuosic watercolor technique, and Rebecca Hellen and Joyce H. Townsend's discussion of the complexity and depth of surfaces of Turner's late paintings and causes of their physical deterioration. But Romantic art lovers and Turner fans will most appreciate the essays of Sam Smiles, Brian Livesley, and David Blayney Brown, who reveal the mature Turner oeuvre not as senile or disturbed as reported by his contemporary detractors, or precociously modernist, as interpreted from a 20th-century perspective, but rather the output of "a highly creative mind grappling with the problem of finding a more adequate way of representing what he knew, drawing on all his technical resources to develop an image rich enough to accommodate what he had discerned." (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/08/2014
Release date: 11/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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