About the exhibition
Visionary, eccentric, populist and epic, John Martin was a controversial but key figure in nineteenth century art. Like his canvases, this wildly dramatic artist with his visions of heaven and hell, was larger than life.
Organised in partnership with the Laing gallery, Newcastle, this is the first major exhibition dedicated to Martin's work in over 30 years. It brings together his most famous paintings of apocalyptic destruction and biblical disaster from collections around the world, as well as previously unseen and newly-restored works.
Hugely popular in his time, Martin was derided by the Victorian Art establishment as a 'people's painter', for although he excited mass audiences with his astounding scenes of judgement and damnation, to critics it was distasteful. In a sense ahead of this time, his paintings – full of rugged landscapes and grandiose theatrical spectacle – have an enduring influence on today's cinematic and digital fantasy landscapes.
This exhibition presents a spectacular vision, capturing the full drama and impact of John Martin's paintings as they were originally displayed. Just as in the nineteenth century, these epic and often astounding works must be seen to be believed.
This eye-boggling show is not to be missed *****The Mail on Sunday, 2 October 2011
A thunderously entertaining painter of death, destruction and doom ****
The Sunday Telegraph, 25 September 2011
Martin's paintings anticipate biblical epics and disaster, movies and CinemaScope; sci-fi illustrations, concept albums and heavy metal graphics; Spider Man and the avatars of video games. Film directors have acknowledged the immense debt, from D.W. Griffith to Cecil B. DeMille and Roland Emmerich
The Observer, 25 September 2011
An astounding survey... Tate Britain rather wonderfully is trying to recreate the theatrical, proto-cinematic effect of the paintings in a son-et-lumiere display... their spectacle retains its force even in the age of 3D cinema.The Mail on Sunday, 2 October 2011