Turner’s Modern World

100 Works at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

By: - Feb 02, 2022

Opening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), this spring, Turner’s Modern World brings together more than 100 works by one of Britain’s greatest artists—including paintings, watercolors, drawings and sketchbooks—drawn from museums across the U.S. and Great Britain.

Made some two centuries ago, these dramatic compositions explore issues that continue to resonate today: the human cost of war, the place of the individual worker in the larger economy, political and humanitarian concerns, the impact of industry on the environment, and the conflict between technology and tradition. The centerpiece of this landmark exhibition is the artist’s famous Slave Ship (1840)—a stinging indictment of the transatlantic slave trade—only on view at the MFA.

J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851) lived through a tumultuous period—witnessing wars, revolutions, massive social reforms and technological innovations that transformed the world around him. Reacting to these changes, Turner began painting in a radical new manner—a modern manner.

His exploration of luminous color was unparalleled, and his innovative brushwork anticipated by decades the loose strokes of the Impressionists in the 1870s and the gestural paint handling of the Abstract Expressionists in the 1940s and ’50s. Turner’s Modern World explores how one painter, more than any of his artist contemporaries, embraced changing times and committed to capturing them with a bold, distinctive approach.

Turner’s Modern World is on view at the MFA from March 27 through July 10, 2022 in the Ann and Graham Gund Gallery. Member Preview takes place from March 24–26. Timed-entry exhibition tickets, which include general Museum admission, are required for all visitors and can be reserved on starting February 2 for MFA members and February 9 for the general public.

“Turner's Modern World” is generously supported by The Manton Foundation, Carolyn and Peter Lynch and the Lynch Foundation. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support from the Cordover Exhibition Fund, the MFA Associates / MFA Senior Associates Exhibition Endowment Fund, the Alexander M. Levine and Dr. Rosemarie D. Bria-Levine Exhibition Fund, and an anonymous funder.

It is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in association with Tate Britain and the Kimbell Art Museum.