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Friday, 8 February 2013

Thoughts of 'The Turner Contemporary'

I still remember reading the diaries of Ruskin, about the time his young mind observed and studied paintings especially Turner. It seamed he (Turner) was his idol at the time of his young life and inspired this great man to become the art critic that everyone respected. One of the first paintings I ever saw that Ruskin painted was a copy of ‘The Bridge at Terni’ that hung on the wall in his study at Brantwood, it could have been the original, but I doubt it.
I made a copy of his notes one summer, which I found the other day amongst many of my papers that I kept from those times. I wish I had made more, but I was eager to read rather than copy what he had written. I envisaged the quill and ink that was in a glass case in the cupboard opposite his desk; that was the original!
I will copy on this Blog what Ruskin wrote about Turner in his diary, it is dated 22nd of June, now I am not sure if that was the date I copied it or it was the date in his diary, it could have been either:

Introduced to-day to the man who beyond all doubt is the greatest of the age; greatest in every faculty of the imagination, in every branch of scenic knowledge; at once the painter and poet of the day, J.M.W.Turner:
Everybody had described him to me as coarse, boorish, unintellectual, and vulgar.
This I knew to be impossible. I found him a somewhat eccentric, keen-mannered, matter-of-fact, English-minded gentleman; good-natured evidently, bad-tempered evidently, hating humbug of all sorts, shrewd, perhaps a little selfish, highly intellectual, the powers of the mind not brought out with any delight in their manifestation, or intention of display, but flashing out occasionally in a word or a book.

Since those days all Ruskin’s writings and artwork have found their way, or most of them, into libraries of universities, hidden away from view, only for the privileged to treasure and read.
Visiting the Ruskin museum in Coniston last summer I was so disappointed with the few exhibits on display, all behind glass, a sketchpad opened on a single page, the treasures in those hidden pages obscured from view.
Is this what is destined for the future Heritage we so treasure, of the great men of learning from our past, how can the budding artist of today read and discover what was meant to be by him (Ruskin) read by the people of this country? 
The same goes for Turner, his great works are mostly in private collections and some in galleries, but the majority are where? He was, according to writings of the time a very prolific artist and when I viewed the video that Michael posted of ‘The Turner Contemporary’ a couple of days ago I couldn’t believe what I was watching and hearing on the exhibit they were showing. There are explanations on all of his work from art critics of the time, many of which I have been fortunate enough to read, some I agree with, some I don’t but that is the point, it is all open to discussion if notes are studied before a discussion of this kind is held. (That’s if you can find them!)

Thanks for stopping by.