Turner’s Modern World


To accompany a landmark exhibition of the art of J.M.W. Turner, this accomponying book presents Turner as a pioneer painter of contemporary life, finding new ways to picture the momentous events and dizzying changes of modernisation.


ISBN: 9781849767125 Category:

David Blayney Brown


This will be the first exhibition to highlight Turner’s contemporary imagery, the most exceptional and distinctive aspect of his work throughout his career. Rather than making any claims for Turner’s protomodernist credentials, it will explore what constituted modernity, and what it meant to be a modern artist, in his lifetime.

Turner’s career spanned revolution and the Napoleonic War, Empire, the explosion of finance capitalism, the transition from sail to steam and from manpower to mechanisation, political reform and scientific and cultural advances that transformed society and shaped the modern world. While historians have long recognised that the industrial and political revolutions of the late eighteenth century inaugurated farreaching change and modernisation, these were often ignored by artists as they did not fit into established categories of pictorial representation.

This exhibition and its accompanying publication will show Turner updating the language of art and transforming his style and practice to produce revelatory, definitive interpretations of modern subjects.

Additional information

Weight 1232 g
Dimensions 23.6 x 28.7 cm
Publisher name Tate Publishing
Publication date 1 February 2021
Number of pages 240
Format Paperback / softback
Dimensions 23.6 x 28.7 cm
Weight 1232 g


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David Blayney Brown is Senior Curator, Tate Britain.
Amy Concannon is Curator, Tate Britain.
Sam Smiles is Emeritus Professor of Art History, University of Plymouth, and Programme Director, Art History and Visual Culture, University of Exeter.