FINAL part 6…….Why Realism?

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.