Go See: Mark Rothko and JMW Turner at the BP British Art Displays at the Tate Britain through July 26th 2009

April 2nd, 2009

Storm Clouds: Sunset with a Pink Sky (1833) by JMW Turner, via Tate Britain

Currently exhibited at the Tate Britain are works by Mark Rothko (1903-1970) and JMW Turner (1775-1851), two of the world’s most influential painters displayed side by side for the first time.  The paintings are part of BP British Art Displays which exhibit a unique array of works from the Tate Collection. Visitors have the opportunity to go between the mediative ambiance of six works of Rothko’s Seagram Murals to the display of Turner works from the 1966 MOMA exhibition which includes experimental watercolors such as A Pink Sky above Sea (c.1822) and Storm Clouds: Sunset with a Pink Sky (1833). Such dreamy, loose, and immersive works demonstrate the great affinity between the two painters.

Press Release
BP British Art Displays: Turner/ Rothko [Artdaily]
Rothko and Turner receive joint billing at Tate for first time [The Telegraph]
The works of two influential painters, JMW and Rothko, are being brought together in an exhibition to show the artists’ similarities [BBC]
Turner/ Rothko at Tate Britain [Timeout London]

A Pink Sky above a Sea (1822) by JMW Turner, via Tate Britain

There are veritable links between the two painters. After he visited an exhibition of Turner’s works at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1966, Rothko is reported to have said, “This man Turner, he learnt a lot from me.” Just a few years later Tate’s Turner Bequest greatly influenced Rothko to donate nine of his Seagram murals to the Collection.  According to Tate Curator, Ian Warrell, “One of the reasons Rothko gave the Seagram murals to Tate was his love of Turner.”

Maroon and Orange (Seagram Mural) (1958) by Mark Rothko, via Tate Britain

Joseph Mallord Turner was born in London and attended the Royal Academy School in 1789 at the age of 14. He became a member of the Royal Academy in 1802 and Professor of Perspective in 1807.

Mark Rothko was born in 1903 in Dvinsk, Russia (present-day Daugavpils, Latvia).  He emigrated to the United States at the age of 10 and became one of America’s most renowned post-war painters. In 1958 he was commissioned to paint the Seagram Murals for Manhattan’s Four Season’s restaurant. Just before his death in 1970, he donated nine of the murals to the Tate out of his love for the collection, and for Turner.

Red on Marron (Seagram Mural) (1958-59), via Tate Britain

Director of Tate Britain, Stephen Deuchar, said of the display, “Tate Britain has always presented different histories of British art, exploring its interaction with art from around the world.  As the Turner exhibition tours from Russia to China and the Rothko exhibition moves to Japan, a unique opportunity has arisen to stage this pairing.” The Tate Britain show follows a major exhibition of Rothko’s work at the Tate Modern where 14 of his Seagram Murals were displayed for the first time.

Untitled (Seagram Mural) (1958-59), via Tate Britain