The Importance Of Art Turner

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The Importance Of Art, Turner’s Painting Slave Ship Essay, Research Paper How can Art influence our views? Images have been used for thousands of years to change them. For example, the early religious figurines, or the present day modern media, photojournalism. What makes paintings(especially this one) special, is the way they grip you, nearly forcing emotions on you. The story behind it, if orally told is sad, and cruel; but the painting gives a much heightened sense of this, giving it more poigniency, and suffering. The painting in question: “Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhon Coming On” 1840 by Joseph M.W.Turner 1775-1851, is a medium sized(90.8×122.6 cm) oil on canvass. In Turner s own life time, it was owned by his dear friend Ruskin. Now it

belongs to the Museum of Fine Arts, in the fair city of Boston. The first time it was publicly displayed was in London, during the annual exhibition of the Royal Academy 1840. The painting depicts a true story, that during a storm in 1783 Captain Collingwood, ordered his crew of the “Zong” to throw all the sick, and dying slaves off the boat. The reason being, that it was possible to claim insurance if a slave was killed in a storm, but not if he(or she), was killed by disease or otherwise. The colours are the most striking element to this painting. They are typical of his late style, using, “reds and bold primary colours.” What really gives the painting it s power, is the, “opposed hot and cool colours”. For instance, the dark areas of sea are a stark contrast to the

flare of bright light in the center. This gives a visual clash to the painting( it was to strongly influence Monet in his “Gare St.Lazare” series), giving it a monumental sense of power. Unfortunately the strength of the colour, is lost on the postcard reproduction. The dazzling whites of the breaking waves to the left of the painting, and of the sun, are lost. As are the deep shades of purple, orange, and red, which give it a moody, angry feel. It has a simple, cross shaped composition. The sun, and it s reflection on the sea, crossed by the horizontal of the sea. When looking at the original you are first attracted to the centrally placed sun. Then, the clever part, suddenly, and crashingly your eyes are brought to the left, to the brilliant white of the explosion, or spray

of water there. This struck me as incredible, the way the explosive spray is mirrored in the viewer s path of sight. Then the violence of the painting is revealed, in the fishes violent feeding frenzy, to the bottom left of the painting. Apparently, according to Ruskin, “the two ridges of emourmous swell” are supposed to represent sexual imagery, although I still remain skeptical about this. The variety of brushstrokes, which causes the variety of surface texture, is again typical of his late style. There is a pronounced shift from the chiaroscuro, of the upper left of the painting, to the rough pasty, and visible brush stokes of the waves and the rest of the sky. The roughness of the other areas of sky, and the waves accentuate it s turbulence. More importantly though I

think, is that the rough handling mirrors the violence of the subject, in a crude way matching the cruel handling of the slaves. On the postcard you can make out a few areas of where the surface has a rougher texture, especially to the area to the left of the sun s flare. An interesting detail the postcard does not show, is how the two edges on the bottom of the painting are not fully painted. The canvass is clearly visible, at these two corners. The brushstrokes here are very rounded, again mirroring the sea s natural form, whereas the corners in the upper half are filled up, this in contrast to the lower corners, suggest an infiniteness. As with most great paintings, it is the details of the painting which affect the overall feel. The waves buffeting the ship, seem plain enough