Turner’s Modern World was published on the 15th of January 2020
He may seem like the ghost of a bygone age to us, but J.M.W. Turner was a true modern, one who broke dramatically with the convention of his times to depict the brave new world taking shape around him.
Turner came to prominence during the period when the industrial revolution first exerted its grip on Britain. In towns and cities around the country, machines were everywhere replacing man power, while in docks and harbours up and down the country, steam ships were confining sailing ships to the past.
The urban landscape was also being dramatically transformed, altered by the vast new industries that the industrial revolution ushered in.
As seismic as these changes were, the artists of the period still chose to ignore them. Horrified by what they saw of this modern world, many chose instead to look backwards, to what they considered to be a simpler and better time.
Previous few artists chose to embrace this new world. Amongst the few, Turner was the most influential.
Turner’s Modern World will trace the evolution of the artist’s fascination with the industrial world. From his first forays into the area in the 1790s, to his legendary paintings of steam engines and railway engines from the 1840s.
Throughout, the Tate will show how Turner updated the language of painting to incorporate his bold new visions of Britain.
The exhibition will also explore how some of the other great political events of the age, such as the Reform Act and the Napoleonic Wars, affected the artist’s work.
Turner’s Modern World will see the Tate put together an impressive collection of the artists’ works, drawing not only on the Gallery’s own collection but also drawing on major works by the artist from the four corners of the glove.
Turner’s Modern World will run between the 28th of October 2020 and the 7th of March 2021 at Tate Britain. More information on the exhibition can be found here.
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