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Turner and Ruskin

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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.




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