Last night I saw the film "Mr. Turner", a sweepingly beautiful film about the great master painter of storm and sea and steam. I hadn't known much about him as a human being and it was rewarding to learn more about his life and character. It was also very interesting to see John Ruskin brought to life as a young man, though I question the accuracy of this portrayal. England's greatest art critic was also a wonderful artist in his own right and much more. About Turner he wrote that his paintings "move and mingle among the pale stars, and rise up into the brightness of the illimitable heaven, whose soft, and blue eye gazes down into the deep waters of the sea forever."
When I was in second grade my father took me out of school one day and the two of us drove from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where we were living, to Manhattan. He took me to The Museum of Modern Art to see an exhibit of Turner's paintings. It was 1964, a year my father later characterized as the worst of his life. This period was dominated by my mother's hospitalization for schizophrenia . This trip to MOMA was a brief respite into another universe. I absorbed the art like a sponge, as one does at that age. My mother had started me painting at three, so by this time I was accustomed to seeing the world through the eyes of an artist. In the film there is a scene in which Mr. Turner is lashed to a pole. The snow is driving down. The camera pulls away and you see that he is standing in the crows nest, way up high atop the masthead of a ship at sea, like Ullysses. He does this in order to experience the terror and the wonder of the manifestation of the cosmic forces. For the same reason I have stood in the open in a field in a storm. The veracity of ones experience imbues the art created. It is the portrayal of the numinous which is the true illumination of Turner's work and is what I have alway sought to convey in my own paintings. Though I would never deign to compare my work with Turner's, and though my work looks nothing like Turner's, the truth I absorbed at seven looking at his work has influenced my work ever since. Please feel free to respond directly to this email with any thoughts you may have in response to these words. I appreciate your time in reading what I write. I am most grateful to those of you who have let me know what you are thinking.
ps the painting above "Strange Days" is in the collection of Janice Huff, TV meteorologist at NBC, NY. More work can be seen by clicking here: http://www.amymarx.com/#/try-again/