Friday, February 13, 2009

Joseph Mallord William Turner

Turner. What can I say about Turner? If you have ever stood in front of an original Turner, you will understand. I have had the please of seeing the Burning of Parliament in the Philadelphia museum of Art. It was huge, 8 feet by 6 feet perhaps. The paint was so thick in spots that it was almost hard to image how he was able to manipulate that much paint and still have it flow the way he wished. So then, I upgraded my Dish Network to HD and got free HD channels for a month. There was an HD Art channel and I was exposed to an hour long program of Turner art on my widescreen in HD. Unbelievable. I was a fan. What I learned from that TV program was the extend of the body of work or Turner that I was unfamiliar with. So in searching, I came across this painting today. It is called "Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus - Homer's Odyssey". I found two versions of this image and not having seen it in person, it is hard to know what the original looks like. However, based on my Philadelphia experience, I would tend to believe that the first image is more accurate. The colors and vibrancy of the Burning of Parliament seem to be mirrored more closely in the top image. It also teaches me that the images found on the internet cannot be trusted for accuracy in color or intensity, so I am grateful that I have seen an original Turner for comparison. The thing that attracted me to this particular image, I believe is that it has a certain illustrative quality to it due to the boat details and the vibrancy of the colors. I brings to mind my childhood and watching Fox's Peter Pan and the Pirates on TV. It evokes those memories for me. Turner has a nearly unparalleled ability to create an illusion of light in his works. He is able to generate a huge amount of warmth in the wood, sails of the ships and reflections on the water and then contrasts that warmth with the coolness of his clouds, water and rocks. My recommendation is that everyone should spend more time studying Turner, especially in person.

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