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10 Feb 2012

Death of John Gage, art historian

atmospheric image of steam train crossing bridge, in our direction, swirling mist/clouds around, pale greys and golds
Turner, Rain, Steam and Speed (1844). National Gallery, London

“John made his mark with the book Colour in Turner: Poetry and Truth (1969), published shortly after completing his PhD. His singular achievement there was to show how Turner’s use of colour, and his eccentric but systematically pursued inquiries into colour theory, were not only supremely visual but also seriously intellectual, and bound up with a fascination with the poetic resonances of the art of painting. John challenged the prevailing modernist interpretations of Turner that ignored the literary and poetic aspects of his painting and saw Turner’s achievements as being exclusively about effects of pure light and colour and visual drama. He showed how the poetic as well as broader cultural references in Turner’s work were essential to its effectiveness as visual art.”

From obituary by Alex Potts, The Guardian (14 Feb 2012)