Thursday, June 28, 2007

Turner Watercolours with Hockney and Shirley

Castle in Middle Distance circa 1820
J.M.W. Turner
Gouache, pencil and watercolour on paper support: 501 x 390 mm on paper, unique
Bequeathed by the artist 1856
Tate Britain D17181 / Finberg number: CXCVI Q

There are two excellent new Turner exhibitions at Tate Britain - and part of one of them was curated by David Hockney.

On Tuesday this week I met up with Shirley (Paper and Threads) from New York who is on her last visit to London to see her daughter and family who return to the USA tomorrow. Shirley very much enjoys sketchbook drawing (do take a look at her blog - she has a wonderful sketchbook of places she has visited in London) and watercolours. We've visited different exhibitions and galleries in London on each of her visits in the last eight months - you can see links to all the blog posts about past trips below. It's rather appropriate that our this gallery trip should feature two motifs from previous trips - Hockney and the Tate.

We met up at Tate Britain so that we could visit two new Turner exhibitions. First the BP Summer Exhibition: Hockney on Turner Watercolours (11 June 2007 – 3 February 2008). I can't do better than use the gallery's own description of the exhibition (below) - which is simply stunning and well worth seeing in person if at all possible.
Dazzling, evocative and sublime, this exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see some of JMW Turner’s most spectacular works. Usually outnumbered by his grand oil paintings, around 150 of Turner’s beautiful watercolours are displayed, giving a comprehensive view of the artist’s astonishing use of watercolour, his techniques and his influences.

At the heart of the exhibition another seminal British artist, David Hockney, presents his own selection of Turner's unique colour studies or 'beginnings' and also provides commentary on the artist's techniques.

The exhibition tracks Turner's watercolour work through time. From architecture to topography, ideal and historic landscape to nature studies, and finished works to private sketches, the selection reveals Turner's extraordinary range as a watercolourist. At the same time, it shows the development of the virtuoso techniques that enabled him first to paint watercolours that could compete with oil paintings, and later to transform all aspects of his art by their example. (Tate Britain / BP Summer Exhibition - Hockney on Turner Watercolours)

What is particularly interesting is the quantity of colour studies on display - the works done by Turner in preparation for more finished works. I'm a huge advocate of making sketches and colour studies prior to developing a paintings and I love seeing exhibitions which display the artistic process.

For those of you who won't be able to visit, you can see the works selected by Hockney on on-line display here and all the works currently on display at the Tate here.

The second exhibition also focuses on the artistic process and is an interactive display in the Clore Gallery called Colour and Line: Turner's Experiments An (2 May 2007 – 30 April 2012. You've got lots of time to see this one!)

Discover how Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) revolutionised two different kinds of image-making: watercolour and print. Colour and Line: Turner's experiments is a two-room display featuring works on paper by Turner, with a variety of experiments and interactive displays exploring his working methods and techniques.....

See the changes in Turner’s watercolour palette as he travelled across Europe, responding to different light effects, and using newly-developed colours and paints. Find out how Turner worked, as well as trying some of his drawing techniques for yourself .
For those of you who won't be getting to London before 2012 you can actually see a lot of the latter exhibition for yourself online (see links below). I've included the links here as Turner is slated to be a Fine Line Artists 'artist of the month' later this year and I'll be referring back to this post at that time. Plus I'll be referring to them and studying them myself. That's when I'm not reading the three Turner books I bought!

Room 1:Room 2: these pages include some of the works from the different periods. Both Shirley and I decided we preferred his later watercolours which were much looser and more experimental.
For any watercolourist visiting London, I highly commend these two exhibitions to you. You'll learn more about what's possible with watercolour and be more stimulated by these two exhibitions than by almost anything else you see in London.

For those wanting to get stuck in to the links prior to Turner Month, there's lots to see in the Tate Britain links below plus they highlight where you can see a Turner - all over the world.....

....and for those of you who want to see what we did next, you need to visit Travels with a Sketchbook in......


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. I'm looking forward to seeing the Turner/Hockney exhibition. I think Hockney's take on Turner will be interesting, even if he has become a bit of a Grumpy Old Man lately!


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