Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mr Turner: more grist to the mill

A brush with Mr Turner - Why can't films about artists get the painting right? [An article by Andrew Wilton, chairman of The Turner Trust]

I read The Guardian a lot. I also read a lot of other online 'papers'. I stumbled upon this essay this morning. It is worth reflection. Prior to this film, I knew very little about J.M.W. Turner, the man. Nor about Turner, the artist. Now, I need to get a glossy book of his works and see if detail was his thing, or whether he just splattered and spluttered the paint across the canvas as Mike Leigh's film led me to believe.

Last year, or the year before, I was asked if I "believed in climate change". Bit like being asked about God, or if one is a "progressive" or a "conservative". My response to the climate-change challenge (for that is what it was, not simply an innocent query), was that I put my trust in those who work in that field. I have no personal knowledge, but if 99% of the world's scientists with some qualification in a relevant discipline believe that the climate is changing, and that man's impact is causing that change, then that is worth taking seriously.

It is the same with this film, which is an interpretation of a man's life, but presented in a matter which has a massive impact. The film leads me to believe that Turner was a beast who painted like a beast. Now, I have to reassess. The author of this article would appear to have experience and knowledge to backup his claims as to Turner's technique.

If Mike Leigh and his team got this wrong, what else did they get wrong? Perhaps Turner was not a beast at all ...


Joan Elizabeth said...

I love Turners paintings - if you enjoy impressionist paintings then you too will enjoy his work. If the movie shows them as splatters then it is just plain wrong.

There are lots of them in the Tate Gallery in London it took about 3 trips to London for me to get there ... it was closed for renos or whatever the previous times.

I have been a little worried about going to this movie because you have warned me that it depicts him as a beast and I think his paintings are sublime so it may spoil my experiences of his wonderful art.

Re climate change I am a little uncomfortable that too many of the scientists are in agreement ... it is their job to be sceptical and explore and it they seem to be starting from a point of "its real" because there is funding in that approach ... and scientists are always looking for funding. It would take a brave scientist to run against the tide.

Reminds me a bit of the Year2000 crisis in the IT industry. Remember all the world's computers were going shut down. Every IT company and consultant (me included) was on the gravy train doing the mitigation work, selling extra equipment to facilitate the testing etc. Russia did next to nothing and they had no crisis. These things have a way of spreading like flu.

I am not saying the climate is not changing ... it is always changing. I am not saying it is not a good idea to clean up our act regarding pollution. But truly the general populace sees every blip in the weather as climate change these days and when you have the benefit of more years under your belt you can go 'yeh I remember it was like that back in '74 or whatever'.

As for the record statistics it irritates me when they say things like this is the longest 3 days of hot weather in March of whatever. You can make a record out of just about everything if you have a computer to run through the stats spotting such things - 4 days doesn't work, how about 3, how about 5 or whatever. Hot is not working how about dry etc.

Julie said...

Shall come back to this later today. Have to go and paint now with GD#1 ...

Julie said...

Comment re the film: If I were you, I would NOT see this film. He is depicted as a low-life.

The more I think about it, the more the film contains an internal inconsistency. Leigh and his cast are trying to say that a beast of a man, produced sublime works, often using brutish techniques. This makes for engaging cinema, but does not necessarily depict the truth of the matter.

The relationship with the house-keeper was that of master/servant prior to this film. The woman with whom he sired two children has a tenuous hold on history. Turner is shown as a man who is incapable of loving his own flesh'n'blood (except perhaps, his father), and yet he lived harmoniously with Mrs Booth for nearly 20 years.

The other scene that worries me is the scene where he strides around the National Gallery as though he owns the place.

There are way too many contradictions here. But then agsin, many people are full of contradictions.

Read a good biography, and look at his works, instead of seeing this film.

Julie said...

Comment re climate change: There is no way I can assert that the climate is changing, and this is due to man's actions. Climate needs a longer perspective than any individual human is capable. There we have to rely upon collected wisdom.

I do appreciate that scientists require research dollars to fund their ideas. But, so do medical researchers, and agricultural scientists. But, I would never contend that research gets skewed to attract government funding. Perhaps, there is a % that does. But it would be a %age across the board, in all disciplines. Just like there are some medical practitioners who rort Medicare by choofing patients through. I do not have at my fingertips the %age of climate researchers who agree with AGW, but it is extremely high, and to see, say, 5% shaved off does not adjust the scales of probability all that much.

There are many ways that the current batch of media-people annoy me with their pronouncements as to certainty. The fact is that much of the material that we read is written by people who do not have enough experience or knowledge under their belt. Many journalists are like many teachers, and many politicians: you do not need a particularly strong academic record to become one. And then you have a soap-box for a few years.