“Andrew Turner is important to art because his painting embodied four visual dimensions: representational, expressionist, abstract expressionist, and improvisational, the latter consisting of jazz currents crafted in colors applied to surfaces,” said James Caplan, a businessman and abstract painter who was one of Turner’s patrons. Turner’s representational work, typically impressionist and often expressionist sold best because it was easier to understand. However, it was anything but hack work and demonstrated his mastery of his craft. “To support himself, Andrew was compelled to paint realistically,” Caplan said. Turner told Caplan that he no longer wanted to create representational work and wanted to experiment instead.
While Turner continued to create representational work, he did find time to experiment. His experiments succeeded and he went beyond representation, beyond expressionism, beyond abstract expressionism to improvisationally create jazz on the canvas. In short, he painted music. “The jazz that one had seen in his expressionist paintings of musicians now transformed itself into the actual music of jazz for the eye”, Caplan explained. “Turner had gone beyond the transcription of scenes and into the realm of creating jazz itself. Jazz created with such colors and strokes and forms and blotches and tones. Not depicting anything but rather creating music for the eye. It is huge to transcend the pictorial and to get fully into the realm of creating the infinity of music.” In these ground-breaking paintings Turner extracted the music and rhythm from life’s scenes and painted them as sounds. Caplan concluded, “Years later, after his death, I came to recognize that Andrew had gone beyond interpreting reality. He was competing with reality.”
Tuner’s synesthetic paintings were not his only accomplishment. Another was his ability to conflate several moments in a single moment, to paint one moment and suggest others. There is the scene in the painting as well as a before and after. He captures the scene he paints in such a way that the viewer also sees what happened before that scene and what will happen after. Art collector Kevin Pugh explained, “You look at a painting by Turner, and you see a movie. With most artists, when you look at their work, you see a painting. Turner creates a scene that tells you a lot of the movie before and after. I get a lot more than the piece that he painted when I buy a piece of his artwork.”
With most artists, Pugh explained, the viewer’s imagination remains with the work. Not so with Turner. “Turner takes you past the work. Other artists don’t do that. Other artists give you good work within the frame. The work can be excellent within the frame. But the work doesn’t make you think past it. People get emotional with Turner’s work. The mastery of Turner is that when you look at a piece you start getting these feelings. These feelings are taking you past what you’re looking at. It’s bringing something up from your past or a feeling you have about the future. It’s evoking a lot of stuff past the frame. The frame is just there because that’s the way art is supposed to be. But that painting Turner did is just so far past the frame that the frame is just really not there anymore even though it is.”