Skip to main content

Turner and Ruskin

Image result for Ruskin

I recently watched the movie Mr. Turner, a biopic of the life of J.M.W. Turner, the great landscape/seascape painter.

I had heard good things about the movie, but somehow I had gotten the impression that John Ruskin had a larger role in it than, it turns out, he had.

I tend to think of Ruskin (whose image you see here) as the Clement Greenberg to Turner's Jackson Pollock. As regular readers of this blog will remember, I have commented on their relationship here of late. Pollock's painting, combined with Greenberg's interpretation, created the New York centered modernism of the late 1940s. Likewise, Turner's painting, combined with Ruskin's interpretation, recreated the too-familiar genre of landscape painting, in the process giving British art in the 1830s and early '40s a sound push in the direction of the somewhat later pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

I still may amuse myself with that analogy, but it receives precious little support from this movie. Ruskin doesn't appear at all until more than an hour in. And serves chiefly as comic relief thereafter.

Ah, well. The palette of the film was unusual. One might even say Turneresque.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.



We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…