JMW Turner: Adventures in Colour

Turner Contemporary

8 October 2016 – 8 January 2017

More than 100 works spanning the breadth of the artist's career highlight the evolution of his revolutionary approach to colour.

Turner’s distinctive use of colour is what defines him as an artist. Early in his career he would imitate the aesthetics of the Old Masters but in the 1830s, after trips to Italy and devout study of Goethe’s theory on how humans perceive colour (the artist’s surviving copy is littered with his notes and annotations), Turner began to produce luminous paintings layered with irridescent yellows, fierce reds and vivid greens.

By his final years his work was at its most radical; precision and detail were often sacrificed to expression of colour. Critics of the time were baffled and openly wondered if Turner was going senile. One of his early patrons was quoted as saying ‘he paints now as if his brains and imagination were mixed upon his palette with soapsuds and lather’. Today these same canvases are celebrated as revolutionary – the first iterations of abstract art.

This autumn his namesake gallery brings together more than 100 works that emphasise his bold and brilliant experiments with colour. It includes many of his Margate watercolours – the most to have ever been displayed in one exhibition.

Venue information

Opening times

Tue – Sun and Bank Holidays, 10am – 6pm
Closed 25 – 26 Dec

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)