Monday, August 29, 2011

Beauty in Art

Oil Painters of America (OPA) is one of my favorite organizations to blog about because OPA promotes traditional representational oil painting.  Why do we need a group like this?  Simple; to defend ourselves as traditional artist from the cult of ugliness and to restore the value, purpose, and need for traditional art and artists!

With the onset of the 20th Century, art took a turn away from beauty and the spiritual, toward what some historians call the period of "What is Truth?"  Truth being raw, ugly, and its subjects objects of utilitarian purpose or minimalists images of a single shape or color.  If you were "creative" with something that hadn't been done before you were singled out as brilliant---example, a bottle of urine with an inverted crucifix in it! I could go on and name countless "masterpieces" but you know them when you see them.  If what the artist created assaulted the viewer it was considered great art and the creator of the assaulting piece a master artist.  Never mind words of explanation, or a printed message had to accompany a piece of art in order to appreciate it or even understand it.  For more information about this, read Thomas Wolfe's, "The Painted Word."

Currently, there is a movement on the West Coast of the U.S. attempting to bring back the romantic, classical style of art where academic training counts for something.   As I read about this small band of artists calling themselves Novorealists,  I came across a blog by Alexey Steele , one of these novorealists, where he posted a fantastic one hour video entitled Why Beauty Matters.,   It is worth the time to watch and it encapsulates all that I believe.

Year after year while I participated in the sidewalk art show circuit I encounter judges who would choose images that were anything but classical or beautiful.  They seemed to go out of their way to choose work that was anything but accomplished, and if the art was traditional and representational they would even just pass by and ignore the work all together.  I've been told that judges don't want to be labeled old fashioned in their preferences and believe that they must keep up an appearance of being contemporary and avaunt guard. As one judge told me privately, "If I choose something on the fringe, who is going to argue with me, and who am I to assume that I know better then other good judges who have acknowledged so called fringe artists. So judges frequently choose what is safe and not buck the trends."

So what is my point?  It is simply this: I don't know that Novorealism is or will become a real modern art movement perhaps similar to the Pre Raphaelites Brotherhood of the mid 19th century ( John Millais,  Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and William Hunt)---I really don't care!

Ophelia, by John Millais


I do appreciate and defend what the Novorealists are attempting to do, and I applaud them for their efforts!  Point number two: Judges, pull your collective arrogant heads out of the sands dunes.  You may think that you are intellectually elite with your fringe choices, but instead I think you display your collective ignorance at best, or your bigotry at worst!   


  1. This was a comment sent directly to my e-mail. Because I encourage all comments, I wanted to post it. Thanks Charley B.

    Hi Deborah,
    I like your blog commenting on beauty in painting. I must admit bewilderment at some of what is called art. I do agree that mush perception of beauty has been lost not only is ART but also in music,writing etc. I remember visiting a museum in Minneapolis and viewing a Mark Rothko piece. It was about twelve feet high and about six feet across and consisted of several bands of color. I did not think much about it at the time but later read about Rothko and learned he was considered a genius who had committed suicide. I could never reconcile this impression with what I had seen.

    We visited a Picasso museum in Barcelona and was quite surprised to realize that he had studied under the masters and created early works in the style of Rembrandt. I agree with your desire to reinstitute beauty into painting.

  2. I agree with much of what you say here, Deborah. Unfortunate to hear that judges fear being judged on the quality of their own decisions. Pathetic and gutless.

    I must admit, I do enjoy some Modern Art, but not all, just as I don't like all Realism. My problem with Modern Art is that it is often inaccessible, like an inside joke. Art shouldn't require a middleman to explain it's significance to the viewer, which is the case for much of Modern Art.

    Realism is rejected out-of-hand by many viewers because a few art critics have declared it a dead form. Unfortunately many people would rather have someone tell them what to think, than take the time to become educated and make up their own minds about the genre.

    Oh well, got to carry on...back to the easel.

    Best regards, Candace.

  3. Candace,
    Your comments were very perceptive and I believe, right on target. Now if we could reach those that need to understand that we are not being fooled by intellectual "speak." It's a visual statement not an oral statement when it comes to paintings. Save the intellectual double speak for the written word. Stay out of the art realm.


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