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Turner, the sublime legacy: ‘a collection you won’t often see’

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Presentation of the new exhibition at the Grimaldi Forum on Turner by Sylvie Biancheri, Executive Director of the Grimaldi Forum and Neil McConnon, Director of International Partnerships at the Tate © Monaco Tribune/ Astrid Berges

The exhibition will also appeal to lovers of contemporary art, thanks to the dialogue between different works of art and Turner’s paintings.

This summer, the Grimaldi Forum Monaco is hosting an exceptional exhibition dedicated to William Turner, one of the greatest British painters and a member of the Sublime artistic movement. ‘Turner, the sublime legacy’, in partnership with the Tate, will be held from July 6 to September 1, 2024. Featuring over 80 works, including 38 oils on canvas, this retrospective explores Turner’s unique vision of the sublime and his quest to “capture the beauty but also the horror of nature,” exhibition curator Elizabeth Brooke explains.

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The Executive Director of the Grimaldi Forum, Sylvie Biancheri, stresses the importance of the event:  “This is a collection that you won’t often see.”  Elizabeth Brooke adds, “This is a unique, once-in-a-generation opportunity.”  The collaboration, which began three years ago, is a first: never before has the Tate lent so many works by Turner for an exhibition outside its four galleries.

A dialogue with the present

There is a constant dialogue between Turner’s works and those of contemporary artists. Each room evokes a period in Turner’s life, and therefore in his work, with which contemporary works of art are in resonance.

Rough Sea with Wreckage by Turner
“Rough Sea with Wreckage” by Turner © Tate

The bold choice explores Turner’s enduring influence on art even after his passing. Artists such as John Akomfrah, Olafur Eliasson, Richard Long, and Mark Rothko are on display alongside Turner, offering a contemporary perspective on the notion of the sublime and the relationship between man and nature.

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Film in resonance with the Sublime, created by contemporary artist John Akomfrah © Monaco Tribune/ Astrid Berges

The Grimaldi Forum: an ideal venue

For Elizabeth Brooke, the Grimaldi Forum was the ideal venue to display this collection of works: “Not every institution is able to mount an exhibition like this. The vast spaces at the Grimaldi really allowed us to make it happen. (…) The volumes are perfect for presenting both Turner’s works and contemporary pieces.”

With a surface area of more than 2,000 m², the exhibition features an original scenography highlighting Turner’s sublime landscapes, from his early watercolours and paintings of British landscapes in the 1790s to his dazzling canvasses of the 1840s. The later works are sometimes reminiscent of the impressionist movement and Monet, who was exhibited last year at the Grimaldi Forum.

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Why visit this exhibition?

It is aimed at lovers of modern and contemporary art, as well as those interested in more historical and classical paintings. Turner’s works are displayed in direct counterpoint with contemporary works in the same rooms, appealing to all audiences and providing an insight into two different, mutually responsive periods.

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‘Totality’ by Katie Paterson represents 10,000 solar eclipses in a disco ball © Monaco Tribune/ Astrid Berges

When asked, Elizabeth Brooke explains that Turner is not only  “a pioneer of modernism”  but also one of the best-known British painters:  “Audiences may be attracted by the contemporary artists and discover Turner,” and vice versa.

The exhibition offers an educational and sensory journey, beginning with an introduction to the concepts of the sublime and romanticism, then moving on through the different periods in Turner’s career.

As the icing on the cake, the Grimaldi Forum is staging youth workshops from 8 to 19 July to awaken youngsters to the representation of landscapes through fun tours and visual arts workshops.


Practical details:

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  • Where : Grimaldi Forum, Espace Ravel. 10 Avenue Princesse Grace, 98000 Monaco
  • Times:  Every day from 10 am to 8 pm. Late night opening on Thursdays until 10 pm
  • Price : €14 (free for minors). 11€ reduced rate (students, groups, seniors, visitors with a TER ticket on the same day)