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Making painting across the centuries

— January 2014

Associated media

Helen Frankenthaler, Overture, The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

‘Making Painting: Helen Frankenthaler and J.M.W. Turner’ (25 January to 11 May 2014), launches Turner Contemporary’s 2014 programme. Showcasing the work of the celebrated American Abstract Expressionist painter, Helen Frankenthaler, alongside paintings by J.M.W. Turner from the 19th century, the exhibition includes 24 paintings by Frankenthaler, whose last public gallery exhibition in the UK was at the Whitechapel in 1969.

Turner Contemporary Director, Victoria Pomery said:

Helen Frankenthaler is a much-overlooked artist despite being an important voice in the development of Abstract Expressionism.  The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to see a significant body of her paintings in the UK alongside some great works by J.M.W. Turner. This exhibition explores painting more broadly allowing similarities as well as differences to be revealed between both artists’ practice.

‘Making Painting’ explores the concept that, though working on different continents in different centuries, J.M.W. Turner and Helen Frankenthaler share fundamental qualities in their use of paint and colour, form and narrative, and in their understanding of landscape.

The exhibition is devised and curated by Turner scholar James Hamilton, whose writings on 19th- and 20th-century art have explored the continuing resonance of Turner's life and work across the past 200 years. He explains the ethos behind the bringing together of two seemingly disparate artists:

This exhibition encourages us all to rely not on what we might know but on what we can see, and as far as possible to throw off the burden of art history. It is the excitements of this conjunction between a Romantic 19th-century Briton and an Abstract Expressionist 20th-century American that the exhibition seeks to evoke, revealing the fellowship that the two artists share in paint across their temporal divide, and the vibrant correspondences which uncover something of the timeless cerebral foundations of landscape art. These two artists could only have met and talked in our imaginations: so bringing their work together takes imagination just one small step further towards reality and allows us to examine values common to both. By exploring two individuals’ attitude to landscape painting across the centuries, this show takes us into the fourth dimension: time.

The exhibition includes a substantial number of works by both artists. There will be 12 Turner oils and 21 watercolours, making it the largest collection of paintings by J.M.W. Turner at Turner Contemporary since ‘Turner and the Elements’ in 2012.  

‘Making Painting: Helen Frankenthaler and J.M.W. Turner’opens to the public on Saturday 25 January 2104 and will run to 11 May 2014.

Turner Contemporary

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