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  • JMW Turner, from II. Various Perspective Diagrams, Lecture Diagram: Reflections in a Single Polished Metal Globe and in a Pair of Polished Metal Globes, circa 1810, Oil and graphite on paper  © Tate, London 2011
  • JMW Turner, from II. Various Perspective Diagrams, Lecture Diagram: Colour Circle No.1, circa 1824-8, Graphite and watercolour on paper, 556 x 762 mm
    © Tate, London 2011
  • JMW Turner, Spheres at Different Distances from the Eye, Lecture Diagram 11, circa 1810. Pen and ink and watercolour on paper, 485 x 602 mm. © Tate, London 2012
Fri 1 Feb - Mon 6 May 2013

This exhibition presents a selection of fascinating and unexpected drawings by JMW Turner investigating the science of perspective.

From 1807–1837 Turner was the Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. He gave a series of lectures about perspective during these years, which were famous for being at once fascinating and extremely difficult to follow. As one critic said: ‘Excellent as are Mr Turner’s lectures, in other respects there is an embarrassment in his manner approaching almost to unintelligibility’.

The drawings were made as visual aids, held up during the lectures to illustrate the complex theories Turner struggled to explain.

To accompany her exhibition Subject to Constant ChangeRosa Barba has made a selection of these drawings from the Tate collection. Struck by their modern appearance, at once stark and complex, Barba was intrigued by the drawings’ explorations of points of view, colour, and reflection, all key interests in her own recent work. The exhibition gives insight into Barba’s practice and the structures underlying Turner’s masterful paintings. 

See what visitors think

In the lead up to the opening of Carl Andre: Mass & Matter, Rosa Barba: Subject to Constant Change and Turner's Perspective at Turner Contemporary (1 Feb - 6 May 2013), gallery visitors asked questions about each of the artists' work. Some of these questions were answered by Carl Andre, Rosa Barba, and Maurice Davies, an art historian with specialist knowledge of Turner's perspective drawings. Listen to the questions and answers by watching the film below.
Filmed by MLM Learning Design

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Left by Andy Jones [ ] on Mon 25 Feb 2013

i believe turner was aware that he was making some lovely could an artist not be aware of is art..thank you so much for making this art and the discussion available....

Left by Sophie Johnson on Mon 25 Feb 2013

I think Turner Contemporary was really fun when my school Christchurch Junior CE came to visit. Maria's exhibition was really cool. Thank you for letting us come. Sophie age 9.