the mighty buffalo, the classical painter has replenished his
ranks to a healthy enough size to insure the survival of the species.
In the 50s Ill bet there couldnt have been a thousand
people alive who could paint a convincing picture. In the 60s
the number might have dropped to as low as a hundred, and they
were all painting cowboys for Louis LAmour book covers.
But today fine painting is back and trying to get its revenge
on the modern art establishment that has treated it so shabbily.
For a great
read check out the diatribes posted on the Art Renewal Centers
(ARC) Website (www.artrenewal.org).
Some of these traditional oil painters are really bitter. But
who can blame them? Modernism dominated the Artworld for most
of the 20th century. Mainstream art turned from a craft into a
Ponzi scheme in less than eighty years. Its true that virtually
all of your lionized, firmly established New York artists are
doing stuff that anybody could do or hiring people to make their
art. Add this to the fact that traditional painting has only recently
reemerged as a legitimate art form worthy of recognition in museums
and serious art reviews and you can see what makes the ARC guys
new traditional painters rallied together in opposition to the
modern establishment they tend to be even more conservative than
their Victorian heroes. The quality of the paintings produced
by ARC members is mind-boggling. No collage elements, random brushstrokes
or gimmicks here, just landscapes, still lives and figures. The
most Zen members of this school of thought have never taken Modernism
seriously. They probably are self taught or studied under a Master.
The more bitter ARC members went to expensive art schools where
they were discouraged from drawing and painting and encouraged
to express themselves.
unfortunate that these painters reject all modern ideas. Innovation
isnt always bad. There are a lot of Pop artists today who
can paint as well as the ARC painters. But Mickey Mouse and Betty
Boop arent sober enough for these traditionalists. Youve
gotta stretch your own linen canvases and use rabbit skin glue
gesso if you wanna play with the big boys. Only a hint of Surrealism
is as wild as they get.
ARC and like-minded
people have been very successful in their mission to bring back
painting. The movement has been going on in earnest since Tom
Wolfe wrote The Painted Word in 1975. When Charles Jencks published
Post-modernism: the new classicism in art and architecture [sic?]
twelve years later the battle had pretty much been won. Though
the ARC members would never define themselves as Postmodern thats
exactly what they are. Though Postmodernism encompasses a lot
of disciples, in painting its the movement that follows,
and rebels against, Modernism.
ARC is only
one of a number of organizations and academies popping up around
the world producing traditional painters. Americans and Europeans
command tens of thousands of dollars for their best works. Celebrity
modern artists still sell for a lot more. If you want to you can
order amazingly well crafted paintings from China that rival ARC
masterpieces for pennies on the dollar. The craft of painting
is hard but its being mastered by more people everyday.
Maybe next well see a reemergence of marble sculpture. Weve
got a lot of good marble down here in Alabama.