Turnbull, John (1919- (active)) by Scholes, Robert

John Turnbull (1919 – ) We know almost nothing about him, except that he painted some scenes of aerial combat in World War I, which Ezra pound admired. We would be pleased to learn more about him. In 1918 a John Seymour Turnbull was killed in action flying over Belgium. This could be our man, but we do not know. In January 1919 Pound, writing as B. H. Dias, reviewed a show of Canadian war art and made the following observations about this artist: “Turnbull is the discovery of the committee. His pictures, painted as if from the actual airplane, combine designs good enough for the most abstract art with the “ representation ” demanded by Sir Claude Phillips and his unintelligent following. Apart from the fact that Mr. Turnbull’s work can be demonstrated to show the wings, guns, etc., of the airplanes and patches of field beneath them, there is nothing to segregate it from the admiration of the advanced spectator who has already discovered virtue in Picasso, Matisse, the futurists, cubists and vorticists” . (NA 24.11:179) We always try to locate images of the specific works discussed in the journal. As you might expect, this is often impossible. Failing that, we seek out similar or typical work by the artist. The only image we have found is linked below. We wold be happy to learn of more such images.

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