Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), Claude Monet (1840–1926) and Cy Twombly (1928–2011) were pioneering artists, each in their own time revered and reviled. According to their detractors, they painted with reckless abandon while according to their supporters they pushed the boundaries of painting. Twombly described himself as a ‘Romantic symbolist’, linking himself to the great painters of the nineteenth century. Like Turner’s, his works invoke myth and history, and additionally mourn the loss of classical reference within contemporary culture. Monet looked closely at Turner’s work and Twombly was a keen admirer of them both.
Turner, Monet, Twombly: Later Paintings presents works from the second half of the artists’ careers, when the outward battles have been won but the inward battles commence. In their late paintings the three artists engage in the struggle to come to terms with the passage of time, mortality and loss, as well as asserting a continuing vitality through sensuality and eroticism. In seven themes Turner, Monet and Twombly are brought together, not in competition, but as a means to explore the ways in which artists share interests, values and preoccupations.
The exhibition is constructed as a dialogue where the three artists converse across centuries, questioning and challenging each other as though each were present in the same room at the same time.
Through the juxtaposition of their work, the exhibition also aims to underline the modernity and undiminished relevance of Turner’s and Monet’s work while simultaneously revealing the strong classical traits in Twombly’s paintings and sculptures.
‘Turner Monet Twombly: Later Paintings’ is organised by Moderna Museet, Stockholm (8 October 2011 –15 January 2012) in collaboration with Tate Liverpool and Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (11 February –28 May 2012). The exhibition is curated by Jeremy Lewison, formerly Tate Director of Collections and now an independent curator, assisted by Jo Widoff, Moderna Museet and at Tate Liverpool by Eleanor Clayton.