continued….Why Realism?….part 5.

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…….)