Or is it the alluring simplicity of a figurative art history that resonates now? Because Turner in many ways opened the door to abstraction with his late works, some may look to him to consider where we went “wrong”—or where art moved away from the figure and became more complex and conceptual—and how we might go back.
Then there is Turner’s extraordinary focus and work ethic, one we might envy and learn from ourselves. Turner was obsessive about observation and painting from personal experience—he took about 2-3 major sketching trips per year for much of his career—and his output is one of the most comprehensive and prodigious examinations of the natural environment the world has ever seen. At his death he left 19,000 sketches behind. (His genius in this respect is easily quantified, as opposed to contemporary artists who have problematized such traditional conceptions of effort and academic practice.)