Archive for February, 2016

Summer Heat, Mingela

Final part 6……Why Realism? An Address on Modernism by Frederick Ross:

“What Modernists have done has been to aid and abet the destruction of the only universal language by which artists can communicate our humanity to the rest of …well humanity. For exposing the truth of modernist art history is very much on topic to bring into question any practice which purports to analyse art history in a way that deliberately suppresses a valid and correct understanding of what actually happened. And it is of the utmost importance that the history of what actually took place not be lost for all time due to the transitory prejudice and tastes of a single era.

Successful dealers, who derived great wealth by selling such works…works created in hours instead of weeks… had little trouble lining up articulate masters of our language to build complex jargon presented everywhere as brilliant analysis. These market influenced treatises ensured the financial protection of these collections.

Such “artspeak” as it has come to be known is a form of contrivance which uses self consciously complex and convoluted word combinations (babble) to impress, mesmerize and ultimately to silence the human instinct so that it cannot identify honestly what has been paraded before it. This is accomplished by brainwashing through authority, confounding the evidence of our senses that otherwise any sane person would question. The “authority” of high positions, and the “authority” of books and print, and the “authority” of certificates of accreditation attached to the names of the chief proponents of modernism, have all conspired to impress and humble those whose common sense would rise up in opposition to what would have been evident nonsense if it had emanated from the mouths and pens of anyone without such a preponderance of “authority” backing them up.

It’s prestige suggestion and there is a difference between value due to prestige and value due to intrinsic quality. In very much the same way a canvas with little intrinsic value which has the signature of DeKooning, Pollack, Rothko or Mondrian are assigned high values because people with a PhD or Museum Director next to their name have told us what to think about their value, or major dealers or auction houses have assigned estimates of millions of dollars to their work, and told people how paying a million dollars today could lead to a ten million profit in the future. Most people do not feel themselves knowledgeable to know what has value or does not have value when it comes to handbags, Persian carpets or wrist watches, and much the less so with works of art, so even if their instincts are to reject something, they keep silent lest they expose themselves to ridicule, or being considered ignorant. Prestige suggestion causes people to assume automatically that a work must be great if it is by any of the “big names” of modern art, so they at once start looking for greatness. If they don’t see greatness they are made to believe that it is due to their ignorance or lack of artistic sensibilities, but never because, just maybe, there is some failing in the art work. To acknowledge doubt is to make oneself vulnerable to ridicule and derision. It’s so much easier to go along to get along.

Students operating under that kind of intimidating pressure, you can be sure, will find greatness no matter what they are looking at. The reverse of this has been trained into them when they view academic paintings. They have been taught that works exhibiting realistic rendering are “bad” art and therefore any good that is seen is not due to qualities in the artistic accomplishment, but are rather due to a lack of intelligence and taste in the viewer.

So many students and even teachers have written and told us how realism has been virtually or actually banned from their art departments.

Without a dynamic living coterie of experts teaching traditional techniques in drawing and painting, it will never be possible for college art departments to have students who are able to enrich the debate and the academic environment for all students by producing works of art that are capable of expressing complex and subtle ideas. To forbid these skills to be taught on campus in any real depth, is as ridiculous as having a music department that refuses to teach the circle of fifths or only teaches three or four notes from which they insist all music must be composed.

In fact, I would say that we are really just beginning to explore the great themes about the human condition, whether subtle or evident, whether psychic, or psychological…literal or literary…fiction or fact; whether of inner life, or interstellar travel. The last century has unquestionably been the most complicated and expansive to the human mind and human sensibilities, and the tenets of modernism which have held the art world in an iron grip have been absolutely paralysing to the discipline of painting and the fine arts.

All of the breakthroughs in thought and science that have occurred in this century, have not been captured with traditional realism; a century during which the knowledge of the world went from doubling every 50 years to doubling every 6 years. If the math is right, 98+% of the world’s knowledge has been generated during the last hundred years. This entire past century has barely been touched at all by your chosen field.

They say, “It’s all been done”? My god, you’d have to be living in Plato’s cave to believe that. We have hardly begun to even consider all of the possible areas of thought, emotion, knowledge, and experience which have yet to be conceived, drawn and painted, in which the expressive, poetic and creative powers of the artist’s eye can once again enrich society, culture and civilization with an outpouring of countless masterpieces from the hands of our Living Masters. With the power of the Internet and with credible organizations such as the network of associated societies of portrait artists, and the Art Renewal Center reaching countless millions of people; with the support now of six major art magazines all committed to reporting on the ARC yearly Salon winners and a vast growing array of other important developments in the realist art community, we are well on our way to a new birth of creativity and a vast new outpouring of human expression; an explosive reinvigoration of the visual arts, but this time fully imbued with the true meaning of freedom of expression.

So long as most of humanity is permitted to compare and decide for themselves what constitutes great art, and with poetry, truth and beauty as guiding lights, a full rebirth of the universal language of traditional contemporary realism is assured.”

Amen to that.

Up from the Gully, Coen

Why Realism – Part 5:

Continuing the address by Frederick Ross …….

“Modernism achieved a virtual monopoly for the past century with controls not unlike the powerful grip of government regulators or an official licensing commission. The institutions of cultural power banned nearly all artwork done by living artists that could be considered traditional realism. They controlled and still control nearly every museum and every fine art department in virtually all of the colleges and universities in the western world.

Nearly all journalistic art criticism in newspapers and magazines showed the same all-consuming bias. All of the art teachers and art courses on every level of education from kindergarten through graduate school are included. Modernism overwhelmed even focused art colleges like Cooper’s Union, Pratt, and the Rhode Island School of Design. No matter which way you turned you could not find any course of education dedicated to teaching the skills of Traditional Classical Realism. The artist guilds were long gone and atelier based schools had disappeared as well. We could only find a rare thread or two of teaching that still included the training techniques which had been used nearly everywhere until the beginning of the 20th century.

Oh, sure, most art departments pay lip service to learning how to draw and will usually include one life drawing class in the requirements for a degree in fine arts or Art Education. But nearly all of those courses are run by art teachers who cannot really draw themselves. And it’s as true today as it was a hundred years ago, or a thousand years ago: “You cannot teach what you cannot do yourself.” Those so-called life drawing classes usually specialize in five minute poses where students are taught that getting the gesture quickly is more important than getting it right. Drawings that are done well and show experience and effort are dismissed as being over worked and having too many lines. But learning how to draw also requires long poses; long enough for students to learn how to find the right lines which define the contours; contours which move in and out of the form; contours which enable foreshortening and successful modelling. Only classical atelier training could accomplish what is necessary for an artist to bring to life their creative ideas.

This is why even though realism is entering its next renaissance, we cannot simply now ignore the modern art establishment and we must continue to speak out. As many of you know, I’m the Chairman and founder of ARC A. R. C. which stands for the Art Renewal Center. The Art Renewal Center was founded in 1999 and we didn’t open our website until November of 2000.

We waited until we had more than 15,000 of the greatest works of art in history available for people to view. Today it’s over 80,000 with a large percentage available in high resolution images for study. Our first goal was to make available to the art world and art lovers everywhere responsible opposing views to the modernist establishment. But by 2002 there were so many requests by visitors asking where they could go to learn the methods of the old masters, that we started searching the western world for places that still made available classical training by educators who themselves had been atelier trained.

By 2003 we could only find 14 such schools, all very small, teaching between five and fifteen students each. Less than 200 students, in all the schools combined, were being trained in the classical methods. We then added to the ARC website a listing of ARC Approved Atelier Schools. The response was overwhelming. Within eighteen months all of those small schools were finding all of the students they could handle and plans were afoot to open many more ateliers. Today there are over 70 ARC Approved Ateliers; schools and academies with approved courses of training with thousands of students …an increase of over 2000% in just ten years. We are incredibly fortunate to be speaking together on the cusp of one of the most important, moments in all of art history. It is very rare indeed for people to have the opportunity of living through major cultural shifts of the underlying tectonic plates of culture. We in the realist art community are bringing about a world-wide shift in the perception and definition of what constitutes great art.

The modernist establishment’s attempts to silence us have failed. Ironically, aided by the most modern of technologies, the Internet, the truth is available in more and more places. Many of the students in the ARC schools have told us how they wasted years and fortunes of money in college art departments. The institutions of the art world must change or perish. After more than a century of blind alleyways, nightmarish detours, and mind numbing “Art-Speak”, to boost up what should have been rejected long ago. The validity of the established modernist view is finally being questioned.”

(to be continued…….)

Timeworn and Weatherbeaten, Atherton

Continuing the address by Frederick Ross:

“Modernism needs to reject all realism because they are rejecting nearly all meaning. How many modern works are titled with the word “Untitled”? Untitled #1 Untitled #33 Untitled ad nauseum. They wear the word “Untitled” like a badge of honour. In doing this, they are telling us and their professors alike…”Look I was careful not to imbue this mess I made on the canvas with any sort of meaning at all!”

Storytelling has become a dirty word in the world of fine art. Storytelling is demeaned as mere “illustration” and “illustration” itself is relegated to the “commercial arts.” Go sign up to study in the fine arts department of any college or university in America, and tell the “officials” who run the place, that you want to paint great anecdotal scenes either as histories, or allegorical paintings, or even every day scenes that capture modern life…anything that might symbolize or express the most powerful of human themes. What do you think will happen?

After looking down their nose at you, trying to figure out how to say what they want without insulting you too much, they will politely tell you that, “Well dear, you should really check out the graphic arts department or look into a commercial art school or go to a trade school for that matter; we do not consider your interests fine art.” They will tell you that storytelling is not what they do. It doesn’t interest them. It’s not a fitting purpose for fine art. It’s not “Relevant”.

So, what is fitting for modernist and post-modernist philosophy? What is relevant? They will tell you: ‘form for its own sake”…”colour for its own sake”…. “line or mass for their own sake.” That is art. There is nothing else that art should communicate or express. They say they’re showing us how to see differently. But we all see what’s there and more-so what is not there. To them these abstract or minimalist gimmicks are far more worthy of accolades of merit than recreating scenes from the real world, or from our fantasies, myths or legends; more profound than imagery which shows our hopes, dreams, and the most powerful moments in life. Empty canvases, or empty rooms, or piles of rocks are more important to them and far more “relevant” subject matter, than the moments in life that describe and define our shared humanity. Squares of colour are superior to subjects about people of colour; layers of textured paper trumps showing the layered textures of life. Dribbles of paint are more compelling than a child learning how to dribble a basketball. Bags of garbage are considered more sophisticated than showing the transition from self-conscious adolescence to self-assured adulthood. And a light blinking on and off in an empty room attracts journalistic praise while the blinking passage of life and time are but worthless sentimentality.

These are the ignorant precepts, of the prefects, who hold our museums and colleges in a hundred-year long grip of banal irrelevancies; boring our inner souls and our youth alike in a system where the skilled are ridiculed and the talented are ignored and disillusioned. The old masters until very recently were dying off without a trained generation to protect, preserve and perpetuate that which had been preserved for so many centuries before.

Well I’m now ecstatic to say that there is such a generation and it’s all of us. We all are part of it. And the realist artists of today are culture’s heroes and heroines. We are all together playing a role in preserving and further developing one of humanities greatest accomplishments: the Fine Arts. Just three short decades ago there was practically nobody left who believed as we do now. But in the past ten years, especially, there has been an explosion in the size and ranks of the realist movement. From a trickle there is today a raging torrent of tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people devoted to the resurgence of great realist fine art which has been the missing universal language that can help interpret and express the ideas and developments of the last 100 years, perhaps, in many ways, the most important century in all of human history.

Many artists today are once again looking at the achievements and the great art of the past, and once again endeavouring to build upon what has come before as we continue into the 21st century.”

(to be continued……..)

Weathered, Charters Towers

Continuing the next section of the speech by Frederick Ross –

“If the truth be known, abstract art is not really even abstract. The process of using “abstraction” that is credited to Modern art is a misappropriation of the word “abstract,” which means nearly the opposite.

It is in fact language that uses a process of abstraction to create symbols that mean something else. Only human beings can use abstract ideas and none of them look like Jackson Pollack or William De Kooning.

Let me explain it like this: The word “paper” means what I’m holding in my hands. The written word “p a p e r” is a further abstraction of the spoken word “paper.” If I make a painting in which a man is shown reading from a piece of paper, I’ve used the vocabulary of traditional realism and created a different kind of abstraction which is instantly recognized by an English speaking person as paper, a French person as “papier,” to a Hungarian as “Papir,” or a Latvian as “papira”.

Once we understand that fine art is a visual language, and that the process of creating it is a true abstraction, then rejecting it on the basis of being descriptive or telling a story is patently absurd. But modernist educators teach students that realism is nothing more than storytelling, which they ridicule. It would be equivalent to rejecting anything written if it told a story, or described a feeling, idea, belief, or thought, or even if the words meant anything at all.

Modern art has taught us that it’s a lie to create an illusion of 3 dimensions in a work of art. The painting is really a flat surface and Cezanne is credited with discovering this truth, bringing us closer to truth by collapsing the landscape. Mattisse collapsed our homes and families and Pollack and DeKooning put them all in a blender and flung or dribbled or slapped on the paint in a cacophony of disorganized shapes and color.

This, we were told demonstrated an incredible truth……..that the canvas is flat. Well, we have news for them……any 3 year old who is taken to a museum knows that the canvases are flat. And then these artists, having proved the canvas flat, proceeded to spend the rest of their careers proving it over and over again. But, what is remarkable in saying, showing or knowing that? Demonstrating this obvious fact is accomplished better by just saying it. But that’s no more brilliant than saying the sky is blue, that fire is hot, or that water is wet.

The equivalent of this absurdity in written languages would be to say that all writing is untruthful because all that is really there on the page are different shapes of straight or curved or squiggly lines. And since that is closer to the truth than placing meaning in those lines…than using them to make words and the words to form ideas…that’s a lie too. Therefore, to bring the analogy full circle…the best book would be one that demonstrates this “truth” with page after page of meaningless shapes and squiggles…thus showing us the modernist’s profound definition of truth. How many books and poems would be purchased and read in which all that were there were meaningless shapes on every page?

What, then, is fine art and fine literature, fine music, poetry, or theatre? In every case human beings use materials supplied by nature (the clay and colours and the movements and sounds of life) and creatively combines or moulds them into something else which is capable of communication and meaning. Throughout history, people have found one way after another of communicating their thoughts, ideas, beliefs, values and the entire range of their shared experiences of living. When it comes to the visual arts, modernists like to say “why waste your time doing realism? It’s all been done already” That would be exactly like saying “Why waste your time writing anything? It’s all already been written. There is nothing left to say”.

Realism has been denigrated repeatedly for being no more than illustration, as if illustration was a dirty word. Would anyone say that Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is just illustration? After all, it does illustrate the bible. In truth Illustration is just another word for storytelling. Would we reject written language because it tells a story? Of course not. But we all recognize that there are good stories and bad stories, some well written or poorly written……..verbose or eloquent.

So too are there bad works of art, mediocre works of art, good and great works of art and the rare masterpieces. We may not all agree all the time, but most people can see intuitively the value in a Vermeer, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Alm-Tadema or Bouguereau. And if people were not brain washed, they would pretty much be able to see the actual truth about a canvas with disorganized globs of paint on it: that it is something which takes virtually no skill to make and lacks any genuine means of communication.”

(to be continued……………….)

Bougainvillea Grandeur, North Melbourne

continued……..“Why Realism?” part 2.

This extract continues on, and is part of, a speech given by Frederick Ross whose credentials I outlined in the preceding post. It re-enforces what most of us discern and think, but often are very reluctant to verbalise; mainly because of the challenges, accusations and incriminations (bullying!) directed at us as a result……..refusing to allow us our freedom of opinion and speech. He says –

“The vocabulary of fine art is realistic images which we see everywhere throughout our lives, and its grammar are the rules and skills needed to successfully and believably render the images. These are some of the rules of art grammar which hold together the real objects or vocabulary of the visual language of fine art: finding contours; modelling; manipulating paint to create shadows and highlights with the use of glazing and scumbling that enhance the forms through layers of pigment; use of selective focus; perspective; foreshortening; compositional balance; balancing warm and cool colour; lost and found shapes and lines. Please consider this additional self-evident truth: Even things which are not real such as our dreams and fantasies as well as all stories of fiction… which are not real… are expressed in our conscious and subconscious minds by using real images. Consider that, only real images are used in our fantasies and dreams…none of which look like Modern art. Therefore abstract painting does not reflect the subconscious mind. Dreams and fantasies do that and artwork can also do that, but only by using real images and assembling them in ways that feel like fantasies or dreams.

So, there we have it, the core concept that explains what fine art is. It is a visual language which is capable of expressing the endless range of thoughts and ideas which can also be expressed in great literature and poetry.

However, unlike the hundreds of spoken and written languages, the vocabulary of traditional realism in fine art has something which makes it unique, in one important way………..the language of traditional realism cuts across all those other languages and can be understood by all people everywhere on earth regardless of what language it is they speak or write in. Thus Realism is a universal language that enables communication with all people and to people of all times…past…present…and future.

Modernist and abstract art is not a language. It’s the opposite of language for it represents the absence of language. And the absence of language means the loss of communication. It takes away from mankind perhaps our most important characteristic……that which makes us human…….the ability to communicate in great depth, detail and sophistication.

And in the case of fine arts modernism banished the only universal language that exists…….realism with the techniques and skills required to achieve it. A knowledge which had grown and developed and was carefully documented and preserved as it was passed down for centuries from masters to students. If the truth be known, abstract art is not really even abstract. Let me explain it this way……………..”

(to be continued…………….)