Art Chronicles: Making Painting

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Turner Contemporary at Margate has an absolutely smashing show on right now. Making Painting, curated by James Hamilton, brings together the work of JMW Turner and the American abstract expressionist, Helen Frankenthaler; Turner making his journey from landscape/seascape painting towards abstraction; Frankenthaler making a similar journey in the latter half of the last century, the best of her work, though at first sight, perhaps, wholly abstract, never quite leaving landscape behind.

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There are three rooms dedicated to the exhibition, well, three and a broad corridor: the final room, the one in which people lingered the longest and in which the liveliest discussions were taking place – parents and young children, it was half-term week – is given over to a terrific selection of Frankenthaler’s most colourful and largest canvasses, brilliant enough to make the head spin.

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By and large, the work of the two painters is kept apart, allowing visitors to find the comparisons for themselves, whereas, in the neat little catalogue, there are a number of explicit pairings, Turner’s Stormy Sea Breaking on a Shore, for instance, alongside Frankenthaler’s Barometer – this last an extraordinary late piece – it was painted in 1992 – which eschews all of the artist’s normal strong colours for a palette of varying whites and greys that, for a long moment, you think could be a hitherto undiscovered piece by Turner himself.

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This show, which runs till May 11th, is not all the gallery has to offer. Juan Munoz’ Conversation Piece III departs on February 26th, to be replaced on March 29th by Edumnd de Waal’s Atmosphere, and Sol LeWitt’s vibrant Wall Drawing #1136 is on display till June 8th.

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Later this year, May to September, there’s a new exhibition, Mondrian and Colour, and, following that, Jeremy Deller’s Venice Biennale show, English Magic.

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2 thoughts on “Art Chronicles: Making Painting

  1. I haven’t made it down to Margate before and this exhibition is one that I’ve been waiting for with anticipation and expectation. So I’d booked myself a few days away last week before your post arrived – serendipity. Maybe we could meet for that long overdue coffee and share thoughts once I’m back?

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