10 March – 30 June 2013
See the first exhibition of Turnbull's sculptures since his death in November last year at the age of 90.
One of Britain’s leading sculptors, Turnbull was part of a dynamic post-war generation of artists that included Eduardo Paolozzi and Richard Hamilton. He was a radical modernist whose coddled bronzes had an animalistic primitivism that appeared timeless. Often described as a sculptor, Turnbull was actually a polymath creating paintings and prints together with his large-scale bronzes and delicate Giacometti-like forms.
Like many of his generation, Turnbull's artistic career had an idiosyncratic beginning. His first job was in the illustrating department of DC Thomson, home of the Beano and the Dandy, and his love of comic book art remained with him throughout his career. His early bronzes were playful, particularly his small sculptures that looked like chess pieces or board games. There is a lovely amateur black-and-white film made by Turnbull and a young Allan Forbes in 1950 featuring the artist’s sculptures that encapsulates Turnbull’s offbeat sense of humour.
It was around 1950 that he left Britain for Paris after becoming disillusioned at the Slade. He turned up at Alberto Giacometti’s studio and spent the next few years involved in the left-bank scene. The exhibition at Chatsworth House begins with the early bronzes he made in Paris while under the tutorship of Giacometti. His large bronzes will be situated in the gardens, while his cool abstract paintings, inspired by the landscape spied from the cockpit of a plane while serving as an RAF pilot in the war, will be on show in the North Sketch Gallery.