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William Turner - Grand-Palais Paris

Grand-Palais, until 24 may 2010

The poet John Ruskin enhanced Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) during his lifetime. He qualified him leader of the modern school. Later we saw in the intuitions of the Impressionist painter, abstraction and even the action painting in the making. The Grand Palais exhibition changes course by recalling first of all it is no novelty without full knowledge of old masters. Throughout his life, the English tried to penetrate their secrets. Not by slavishly copying but component variations revealing their theme, their light and their bill.
Turner was a great traveler. Like his predecessors, he carried his paintbox to Italy. Better than any other he knew in his wonderful watercolors capture all the sublime and the charm of landscapes. So in Wales at Naples or in the Alps. But it was not always by mountains and seas. He spent hours in museums (the Louvre) and explore the collections of masters. If proved below Titian, he recoiled from the kind of portrait, he kept the chiaroscuro of Rembrandt mystery forms. The Nordic inspired her sails and waves, the unique charm of its rainy atmospheres. As Roman arcades, he withdrew more than elegiac vision of antiquity as well as unpublished vaporous atmospheres. It finally dipping his brush into the glitter of the Venetian views by Canaletto that Turner was the best his thought: that the world is never as real and intangible. The Grand Palace is low here, the Turner in Venice, so revolutionary. Otherwise, the character proud, romantic lover this extreme, this maestro fascinated by maelstroms loved rupture with his peers. These games, and without many concessions, although very fair-play - are not we in England? - Are replenished. In Paris, the scenery is less impressive than at the Tate in London, where a first presentation showed the works side by side, as in the days of shows. Here, they often face or are interrupted by the path. Moreover, we never tired of admiring this painting dual, full of challenges, finesse and daring. The evocation of this spirit of competition, as we have seen recently in the Louvre exhibition on Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto, dusts decidedly ancient art.

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