William Turnbull



Not on display

William Turnbull 1922–2012
Painted steel
Object: 2456 × 2626 × 787 mm
Presented by Alistair McAlpine (later Lord McAlpine of West Green) 1970

Display caption

During the 1950s William Turnbull began to feel that much contemporary art was becoming mannered, too concerned with effect. He decided, therefore, that the only way to make meaningful work was to rethink the process from the start. Beginning with a void (in sculpture) or a blank (in painting), his works were built up from elementary forms or marks. In sculpture this resulted in works like this one, which has a very open, flattened structure, comprising clearly defined shapes. The overall character of the work can be grasped immediately. The shapes also define the intervals between them, making space an element in the composition.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

William Turnbull b. 1922

T01388 3/4/5 1966

Not inscribed.
Steel, painted red and tangerine, 100¼ x 103¿ x 31 (254.5 x 262.5 x 79).
Presented by Alistair McAlpine 1971.
Exh: Open Air Sculpture Exhibition, Battersea Park, 1966; IX Bienat, Sao Paolo. 1967 (British Pavilion, Turnbull 3, repr. in colour); The Alistair McAlpine Gift, Tate Gallery, June–August 1971 (53, repr.).
Lit: Richard Morphet, in catalogue of The Alistair McAlpine Gift, Tate Gallery, 1971, pp. 106–21.

The title ‘3/4/5’ refers to the number of changes of direction in each upright. ‘3/4/5’ is one of only two works in which Turnbull uses more than one colour, his aim being to affirm the structural fact that the three elements arc separate units.

See also entry on T01385.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.

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