New Turner Exhibition Opens In Margate

Major Survey highlights Turners Relationship with The Kent Coast

More than Eighty-eight works by the British painter, JMW Turner goes on show tomorrow, in the comprehensive exhibition “Turner and the Elements” mounted at the new Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate. The exhibition runs from 28 January –13 May 2012. Included in the  exhibition are a number of works featuring Margate and the north Kent coast, illustrating how his painting technique and the influence of the latest scientific and technological developments of his time, revolutionised landscape painting. JMW Turner was a frequent visitor to Margate spending time there as a child and again later in his life. He is said to have remarked to John Ruskin that “the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe”.
In the 1820s and 1830s Turner lodged with Sophia Booth in a house that was located on the same site as Turner Contemporary.  The windows from the house provided Turner with an ever-changing view over the beach, pier and jetty and Margate became a central subject in many of his works made at that time. In these images of Margate and the Kentish coast, Turner’s fascination with the elements, air and water, is apparent.  The exhibition focuses on the theme of the elements in the artist’s work and is divided into five sections: Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Fusion.
Sketches in the exhibition known as ‘colour beginnings’ reference Margate and the North Kent coast, Margate circa 1830, Storm on Margate Sands 1835-40 and Margate (?) from the sea circa 1835. Turner and the Elements is organised in collaboration with Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg and The National Museum Kracow. A fully illustrated catalogue is available to accompany the exhibition. Curated by Inés Richter-Musso and Ortrud Westheider, the exhibition is the only opportunity to see this selection of works by Turner together in the UK.

Biography: JMW Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner was born in London on 23 April 1775. He was a keen draftsman from a young age and by the time he was 12 his drawings were on sale in the window of the family barber’s shop. He first displayed a watercolour at the Royal Academy in 1790, aged 15. He contributed two works to the 1791 exhibition and over the next 60 years he showed at almost every exhibition. He was elected Academy Associate in 1799 and attained full membership in 1802. The same year, the Treaty of Amiens gave the artist his first opportunity to travel to the Continent. His first destination was Switzerland. On his return journey, he also spent time in Paris where visited the Louvre. There he examined the works of Poussin, Titian, Rembrandt and Salvator Rosa. Throughout his long life, Turner made numerous journeys on the Continent as well as spending extended periods in the West Country, Yorkshire, and the Lake District. In 1804, Turner opened his own gallery where he was able to show and sell his own work. By 1810 he had amassed a considerable fortune, which he invested in shares and property. 
Turner was interested in science and technology and counted numerous scientists amongst his friends. He studied Goethe’s theory of colours and many of his late works are informed by this. He was also interested in the invention of photography, the steam engine and chemical dyes, all of which affected his practice as an artist. Turner worked extremely hard throughout his life. He produced an enormous number of watercolours, paintings (oil on canvas) and pencil drawings in sketchbooks. A large number of these were left to the nation and are now housed at Tate Britain. Turner first saw the sea in his early teens, when he was sent to Margate to stay with relatives of his mother. In his later years he again became a regular visitor to Margate, staying in a house overlooking the beach. His landlady, Mrs Booth, became his mistress. Turner died in London in 1851 and is said to have remarked ‘The Sun is God’ as he took his last look into the sky. Mrs Booth, his Margate landlady, was with him as he died. Turner kept this relationship secret even though it began as early as 1834. Today Turner’s works are enjoyed and praised, even if their true meaning remains fluid and difficult to grasp. In 1984 the Tate Gallery established the prestigious Turner Prize, in part because Turner had wished to establish an award for artists.

ArtLyst will have a review of the exhibition on the website later today.

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