William Turnbull

No. 1


Not on display

William Turnbull 1922–2012
Oil paint on 2 canvases
Support: 2540 × 3759 mm
Presented by E.J. Power through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1962

Display caption

In this two-canvas painting Turnbull aimed to bring two colours together without creating shapes. He wrote in 1963: 'I am concerned with the canvas as a continuous field, where the edge created by the meeting of coloured areas is more the tension in a field than the boundary of a shape.' Each canvas can be seen not only as a container of colour but also as a unit or self-sufficient entity. Aiming to emphasise the physical relationship between a spectator and a work of art, Turnbull allowed the colours in his paintings of this period to fill the viewer's entire field of vision.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

T00515 NO. I 1962

Inscr. several times on back of stretchers and on canvas strips folded over stretchers ‘Turnbull No. 1–1962’ and ‘No.1/1962 Turnbull 1962’.
Two canvases, each 100×74 (254×188).
Presented by E. J. Power through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1962.
Coll: Purchased by E. J. Power from the artist with the intention of presenting it to the Tate 1962.

The work consists of two separate canvases placed edge to edge; that on the left is painted blue with a narrow vertical strip of green along the edge adjoining the right-hand canvas which is painted entirely in green. The artist wrote (22 June 1962) that this was the first painting done in January 1962, and explained that 'my reason for using two panels is to involve the edge in a paradoxical way so that it is less a restrictive boundary, also the contrast of the actual break against the illusion of the paint is a device I have used a lot.

‘I suppose I want the picture to work by a sort of colour saturation, and to cover as large a part of the wall as possible.’

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II

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