Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Max Turner

Max Turner is an instructor at the California Art Institute; other faculty members include artists like Tony Pro, Glen Orbik, Ryan Wurmser, and many other greats. I first saw Max's work several years ago in his self-published book Faces. When looking at his charcoal head studies, I instantly thought they were reminiscent of Nicolai Fechin.

Max's world is all about faces. As a child, he would rummage through the trash, looking for the popular fashion magazines of the day, just to get a glimpse of the latest cover illustrations by Harrison Fisher or Jon Whitcomb. He was born in the small, and art baron, town of Bingham Canyon, Utah, and was a soldier in World War II, a printer, machinist, foundry worker, and eventually an instructor, artist, and sculptor.

There isn't much about Max or his work on the web, but after seeing the below photo on Tony Pro's Facebook profile, I was reminded of his drawings and set out to find his book and to see more of his work. His books, which now include Faces2, and Figures & Faces are not available through any means other than from him directly.

Without knowing any of his contact info, I stumbled across a site called Bonanzle which was selling some drawings and paintings under the name Max Turner. After contacting the seller, I found out that it was actually Max himself and I was able to purchase a book and a head study from him. The below image is a photo taken of my new drawing which I just got put in a frame.

It amazes me that Max, along with probably hundreds of other great artists are fairly unknown and unrecognized for their work. It may be the cost of being a teacher, and not a gallery artist, and perhaps they just live on through their students (Tony Pro, Jeremy Lipking, Aaron Westerberg and others in Max's case), but in any event, I wish they were more known and rewarded.

For me, my most influential teacher in art school was Brian Jekel. I can't imagine the sacrifices he has made just so young artists like myself could be set on the right path . . . I hope to someday make him and my other instructors proud by becoming the type of artist they dream of for their students.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you acknowledged such a great talent as Max. I use to take Max's art classes in old Calabasas back in the 70's. And I bought books on Fechin just to try to get that "thing". What I loved about Max was his humility, and kindness. He never seemed interested in the "fame" thing, very down to earth. Thanks Ryan for your post.

hanh nguyen said...

Your post is a rare find that mentions about Max Turner, one of my favorite artists. I put a link from my post about him to your post. I hope you don't mind. Thank you!

Renee said...

I just found this through a friend. I was Max Turners partner at the Calabasas Fine Arts Gallery back in the 1970's. I know him better than anyone. He would be in his early 80's by now. I have a few paiintings,drawings and his sketchbook. My e-mail is: prlange@roadrunner.com. Please contact me. Renee

Lawrence Ala said...

I purchased a Max Turner bronze full size whales statue how can i tell if it is a real Max Turner

Potter said...

So as I was growing up, my house was filled with exquisite artwork. Usually profiles of faces, or half finished paintings that went unsigned as the artist thought "they were not good enough to be signed". I was the youngest of 7, and my older siblings growing up would take the art and slide down the stairs on them in their large wooden frames. kids were kids (I have to find a way to repair some of them).

As it turns out, Max Turner was married to my Aunt Dorothy. As he was learning the art and taking lessons, he gifted us and many others with his Amazing creations.

Unfortunately, he ended up leaving Dorothy for his art teacher.

Just one of those stories that I grew up hearing around the dinner table. Thought you guys would appreciate the insight.

James said...

Have one of his sculptures made in 1990. I use to buy direct and sell his work. Havent seen any of his sculpture floating around. My buddy who owns the foundry I cast at hasnt heard or seen him in awhile. I was wondering what happened to Max. Anyone know? - James@Art Deco Decor