Today I went to the Turner exhibit at the Art Gallery of South Australia. These works by Joseph (not James, I always call him James by mistake) - Joseph Mallord William Turner are owned and normally exhibited at the Tate Gallery in London. In fact, this is the first time the paintings have ever been out of England. The Tate insisted on sending the paintings in separate airplanes, just in case there was a crash, so that the entire collection wouldn't be lost in one plane. And of course each painting had to have a specially made liner and crate, because that's how paintings are shipped. Plus each painting was accompanied by a staff member, just to ensure that the painting was not mis-handled and arrived in good shape. So just sending the works was a major production, and will be repeated when everything returns to England.
Apparently as Turner became famous, he started to not sell his paintings, and just stockpile them, planning to donate his entire body of work to the people of England. Amazing, to think that he wanted to share his work with the people and the future, rather than make money from his paintings!
His early work (not often seen) is very realistic, but still with his attention to detail and light, and experimentation with painting technique. This is what he's most famous for, his innovative technique, and his ability to paint light, in all it's shapes and forms and temperatures. His work is beyond atmospheric. Beyond luminous. His paintings don't glow, they illuminate - as if there is a light source embedded in each painting, so that the painting itself is creating light, illuminating a room.
I've always wondered why he isn't considered a Pre-Impressionist. I mean, how can you look at his work and NOT think of the Impressionists? Most of whom came along maybe 20 to 50 years later. If there are Neo-Impressionists, and Post-Impressionists, doesn't it make sense that Turner could be considered a Pre-Impressionist?
Because his paintings, his later works, are all about a moment in time, a moment in light, all about mood and light and sensation. A fleeting moment, captured in oil. Portrayed in a quick and non-realistic way, playing with the paint itself, manipulating the media in new and creative ways never seen before.
But Turner also referenced politics, current events, in his artwork. He portrayed atrocities such as a shipwreck of women convicts and their children. Or the atrocities of a slaving ship. His paintings included the monumental historic story-telling that was considered the "highest" form of painting in his day.
Maybe he's more like a bridge between the old academy painters and the Impressionists. He paved the way for the painters to come. Which would, indeed, make him a Pre-Impressionist.
Anyway, it was a wonderful exhibit, and I had a great time looking at each painting, inspecting his brushwork, looking at the paint up close, from afar, just being amazed by his work.
The other excitement of the day - Richard and I play slot machines occasionally, and the pub/bistro where we had dinner had a few machines. The Koala Mint machine caught my eye - because the name is so off the wall. Well, I won several rounds (with multiple koalas, or kangaroos, or possums - even five platypuses - I know, it was the funniest slot machine ever!) and then I won the free games (koala at the two ends of the line) - well, you should have seen the two of us cheering! And then, in the midst of the free spins, I won more free spins! Plus the occasional symbol turned into a multiplier, so I won more and more money!!! Richard and I were cheering and yelling the whole time as the winnings kept piling up and up! It was a penny machine, so the bet was only 20 cents - I walked away with $45. Not a lot, but it was SO exciting!!! It was also funny, because most Australians don't cheer as their machines rakes in money for them - seems to be an American thing to do, I guess. Well, and I did my usual thing and hugged the machine good-bye and thanked it for winning for me.
So - all in all, a good day!!! Excellent artwork, and a winning slot machine!