Autumn 2020 at Tate Britain will see the opening of a new exhibition of the works of JMW Turner, one of Britain’s most iconic and recognisable artists. Though Turner – who is soon to feature on the new £20 note – is often remembered for his turbulent seascapes, the exhibition highlights the artist’s interest in the technological and societal changes of the Industrial Revolution, which was at its peak in his lifetime.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, who ignored the political reforms and advances, Turner was famously fascinated by new industry and technology, producing landmark works depicting steam boats and railways in the 1840s. Alluding both to Turner’s modern interests and the distinct, fluid style of his late painting, the Tate credits Turner with ‘[updating] the language of art to produce revelatory interpretations of modern subjects’.
One of the must-see cultural happenings of 2020, this landmark exhibition shows the painter’s engagement with the major political events of his time, such as the Napoleonic War and the campaign against slavery, showcasing many major artworks by Turner from around the world. Turner himself was an avid traveller, with a love of nature often the driving force behind his paintings. Extensive travels to Italy from 1819, when Turner was at the height of his artistic powers, established the city of Venice as a recurring theme in his work.
While Turner’s luminous, hazy landscapes and historical paintings might seem tame by today’s standards, in his own lifetime the artist was seen as a controversial and anti-establishment figure for his unusual brush work and ‘modern’ subject matter. Hence the Turner Prize: celebrating new developments in contemporary art, its name is a nod to Turner’s avant-garde reputation and wish to establish a prize for young artists.
Focusing on the reality of being a modern artist in Turner’s lifetime, the exhibition is sure to have audiences experiencing the great artist’s life and work from a fresh perspective.
28 October 2020 – 7 March 2021
Tate Britain, Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG
For more information and tickets, visit tate.org.uk