Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Let's all just get along (link fixed)(insensitivity removed)

Dave and I love trolling as much as the next person, but frankly we’re getting bored of the same old debate topics that are so popular in our little art community. We have a proposition for you: let’s find new stuff to argue about for 2012! The current contentions are stale enough to use for fondue.



Witness Exhibit A:

Contention: Should artists attend a mainstream post-secondary fine art institution or a 19th c. style atelier/academy?

This contention already had cataracts and a creaky hip when I became aware of it in 2004, and yet it still makes the occasional, baleful appearance when a newbie to classical realism shows up to the party. The redundancy of this argument is underscored by the fact that both educational paths will lead you to the exact same seedy apartment with a cupboard full of Ramen noodles and saltines. Also, if you did attend an accredited institution for fine art and not an atelier, stop complaining that they wasted your time. And if you attended an atelier, stop complaining that they wasted your time.

Exhibit B:

Contention: Should painters work only from life, or is photography not entirely shameful?

I’m sure this has been around since the 1800s. I’m not going to say too much about this one, except that there are stunning works of art made from photo references, and appalling works of art made from life studies; and that Leighton and Tadema and all those talented jerks used photos; and that most artists can’t afford full-time models; and that any painter from the Renaissance would have given his left optical nerve to have photo references to help them plan their paintings; and that if you make the process of making art, the art itself, than you are in fact a POST-MODERNIST. No, indeed, I will not say anything about my stance on that argument.

These are just two examples and my blood pressure is strangely elevated, so I think I’ll try to skip briefly over some more examples. There’s the Fine Art vs Illustration debate, which is as relentless as an underground oil fire, not to mention the abstract art vs realist art one, which is really just for varsity level debaters. For the sake of brevity I'm going to end my list here, but I formally invite all readers to add to my list of contentions in the comments section.


I think in the new year we should be magnanimous and let old bygones be bygones. Let’s turn a leaf, art community; let’s leave old arguments behind us. Instead, I would like to proffer a brand new shiny argument for us all to enjoy in 2012:

Should we North Americans give up fine art since the Russians are handing our asses to us anyways?

(Click here to see what some teenage Russians are painting in the academies over there)




If you must continue the old debates, may we suggest that henceforth these arguments be settled in Thuderdome. Two artists enter, one artist leaves.


40 comments:

  1. Link to the russians have a space ( %20 ) at the end, so it isn't working! Other than that, another great post. Love you guys, keep up the great work

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  2. Thanks for the heads up. Link has been fixed.

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  3. How about "how come nobody is doing narrative works anymore, waaaaaah"

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  4. Funny how your two topics feed the biggest debate in art today, that is the elitist inbred philosophy of realist artist. I am thrilled at the number of quality ateliers open today, but good grief the nepotism and genuflecting of these organizations being members of a superior race is nearly neo-Nazi, which brings up the whole conservative theology you see on sites like ARC. I am thankful for the effort at ARC, but it proves that when a pendulum swings to far it one direction it swings back too far in the other. The rest of us artist out here, lets call ourselves the 99% can not afford you high priced tag schools and workshops, where those with the silver spoon get to rub their little Johnson’s up to a “famous” Johnson and thus by association are anointed “artist”. The most important event of the last twenty years in fine art has been the realist rebellion, but there needs to be a mutiny in its ranks. We do not have to worry that the post-modernist philosophy/lectured based - art theory - concept of art marginalizing realism again.
    We are too busy doing it ourselves.

    The Atelier studio program focuses primarily on teaching fine draftsmanship and painting skills, but as the more and more students emerging from these schools seem to be hung up on laborious technique that are close to trompe l’oil. It proves that this “1” percent completely missed the purpose of there training and believe the “logical?” answer to their inability to express themselves as a artist will be found in coping a photograph.
    The working from photographs is illustration, I figure most students that can afford such schools really know this and probably dress in all black.

    Thank god, the Russians are coming they look good in black.

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  5. Your last comment David made a connection with me that has been in my craw for some time. In a prestigious regional show, a judge said that my painting was as good as the one he awarded the prize to but he just didn't like "narratives." Being that it was a still life and he painted figures, I wasn't sure what constitutes a narrative painting. Can you explain?

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  6. Who do I have to face off in the Thunderdome, because I'm not prepared to give up complaining about my university art "education." I never expected to be handed an income because of my art degree - I knew I'd have to work my ass off - but when I went to university, there were no ateliers to speak of. My big disappointment was actually expecting to learn how to draw and paint in art school, just to find out that the teachers didn't know themselves, nor was it the school's goal to do anything more than make a buck. Alright, I'm done, and it's still 2011, so I feel justified. I'll try to keep my complaining to a minimum in 2012, or face the prospect of taking on you guys in a fight to the death.

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  7. Man, and just as I was thinking of whining that I went to an "Institution" in the US instead of an academy in Russia. Is that valid or should just shut my pie hole?

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  8. I think really good work speaks for itself, no matter what genre. I think a lot of realist artists dislike a lot of contemporary art because it breaks the rules realists think they should be rewarded for following.. but there are no rules.

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  9. @Jason, there are rules to art.

    The first rule of art is don't talk about art.

    The second rule of art is don't talk about art.

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  10. @Rateyourart -

    Can we raise anchor on our ship before you instigate the mutiny? I feel like there is already too much silly in-fighting among the realists, and our "revolution" hasn't even had the chance to coalesce.

    I've never felt that a student of one of the ateliers has ever looked down upon me. That doesn't mean I've never felt inferior to them - I have - but because I wish I could do what they can do, or that I had learned to do such work at such a young age. I've heard that in Florence there is an implied hierarchy, but the artists I've met from those schools, once they return, have all been working too hard on their own work to still subscribe to such politics.

    But no matter what school or atelier someone attends, they will never be graduated fully-formed as an artist. Good schools teach technique, and then the graduate will spend their life trying to create ART. We don't teach a child the notes of a piano keyboard on Monday, then write them off on Friday because they haven't composed a symphony yet. Give the students and recent graduates a break. At least they have skills upon which to build.

    Exhibit C: Illustrators are not Artists
    That argument was okay in the '50s when illustrators were raking in more than doctors and lawyers, but it's rather tired now.

    Exhibit D: Kitsch

    Let's all just work hard and make the best work we can (and watch a lot of martial arts movies, 'cause I think David really is building Thunderdome in his backyard)

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  11. @Innis. Very good new exhibits. They will also be added to my list of awesomeness. In addition, I know your reputation as a destroyer of men, and I do not wish to face you in thunderdome Therefore, you are allowed to kvetch about art universities until after new years. After that..um..you will have to fight Kate.

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  12. @Deborah The funny part is, everyone who always brings up the narrative debate with me never really defines it. I think a still life can be a narrative if it tells a story, but I think these people are referring to gigantic history paintings as far as I can figure.

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  13. @Innis--In the pursuit of Funny I often forget how my writing sounds without the inflection of my voice to deliver it. I'm actually referencing the gospel of "Art School Confidential" where the ignorant cousin asks the artist if he'll go get a job somewhere painting once he has his degree. I honestly think that most post-secondary fine art programs miss the boat and waste students' time by not preparing them with relevant skills and maybe kvetching is still necessary for the sake of informing the next generation. But come to think of it, academy students complain about their educations just as much, so I've revised my post accordingly.

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  14. @Kate Ah, I see. I was an illustration major, which actually offered the possibility of a 9 to 5 job if you were hired by a company with an art department, so the idea of an art degree leading to a job was not out of the realm of possibility to me (unlikely, sure, but not impossible).

    @David Kate has intimidated me ever since our first meeting, so I wouldn't want to face her in a 'dome fight.

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  15. @Innis I think she was referring to institutions for fine art, not necessarily illustration. I think it is implied that one would be employable with an illustration degree (at least they should be), as opposed to a fine arts degree. I attended a fine arts university, but don't really discuss it anymore. However, I will say fine art universities are important as they enable students to pick up good looking art chicks with tons of baggage, smoke pot at 10 in the morning, expand your collection of indie rock, and have group therapy...er...I mean critiques. Academies and Ateliers allow for non of these things.

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  16. I went through an Illustration program in college and experienced all of those things.. except it was progressive rock instead of indie.

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  17. Saltines? You can afford saltines?

    This post asks me to give up some of my pet peeves. Not sure I can just do that. NOW I know what to do with my chainsaw! I'm bringing it to the Thunderdome! (http://paintingstufftolooklikestuff.blogspot.com/search/label/Chainsaws)

    Or maybe I'll just enjoy some ramen noodles and go painting. Gotta try and catch those Russians.

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  18. The core problem with realist art movement today is a public relations one which is exemplified by Mr. Glucks exhibits A and B.

    This idealized Edwardian ivory tower, being the bastion and saviors of representational art that many of the ateliers proclaim just alienates them from the rest of the population. There IS a social-economical division of those students attending a atelier Academy or a University institution. All one has to do is look around for the truth of that statement, at the links on this site or the people in class including instructors and student. Studying classical techniques Europe is quickly becoming some aristocratic privilege closer to a finishing school than that of art school.

    "I do not want art for a few, any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few." William Morris

    The photo/illustration issue is larger today than ever.
    If the basic response to your work from the public is “I thought it was a photograph” do not blame the public or declare them ignorant (does that not sounds similar to the post modernist method of qualifying “Modernist” work?)
    Because they (the public) can not see the difference, blame yourself because you can not express the difference. And what ever you do, do not retreat behind that cowardly defense of that is an old debate; it is an entirely new and different debate, that is if you are really part of the renaissance of traditional painting.
    And not buying time until the trust fund pays out or you figure out a good anime story idea or get a job painting for the next Avatar/video game/tattoo parlor/graphics/whatever job

    Good painters only come from the appreciation and the long study of the visual language of art. To acquire such skill is a slow process.
    However
    The dutiful renderings are only as interesting as the guy who painted the Last Supper on the head of a pin.

    The "revolution” did not have the chance to coalesce, because it evaporated

    Happy 2012

    Max: I don't know anything about methane.
    Aunty Entity: You can shovel shit can't you?

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  19. @rateyourart--You sound very angry. If we're the ones causing your anger, then you should probably stop following our blog. Most of what we say is in fun and if you think that ranting is an appropriate response then you are following the wrong blog.

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  20. @Rateyourart. I remember when I got a thesaurus for Christmas.

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  21. @Innis It is very hard for artists in the realist community to look down on you because you are so tall. They would need..like...a stepping tool or something.

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  22. Do comic books, strips, & covers count as narratives? Cause that's where I feel some of the best artwork and iconic images have been produced over the past century. or are they DQ'd on account of them being more lowbrow than illustration...or does their inclusion blur the lines on what's really 'art' - thus we gotta start adding classic Disney cartoons into the discussion.

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  23. Too much fun! Maybe you should start a new "Thunderdome Blog". Seats are filling up fast :)

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  24. @Henry. I'm not touching the "what defines art" argument with a 10 foot pole. I learned to never talk about 3 things; religion, politics, and what dictates art. That being said, you know I'm a huge Frank Frazetta fan and I do draw inspiration from various concepts artists, movies, etc.

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  25. David,
    I will second your motion of "Why is no one doing narrative artwork anymore, Waaaaah?" And then will rephrase it so that it might troll and/or incite more violence, and hopefully land somebody in a deathmatch:

    "Narrative in film has replaced the usefulness of narrative in static works of art."

    That is all.

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  26. Man, I wish there was a "like" comment option on some of these comments.

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  27. HAHAHA!
    Why was I not informed about this blog, or this post, or the COMMENTS? I will hold someone responsible!

    Now, I am too happy/busy to confront some of the erratic thoughts above. Let´s just say I won´t forget my pushups from now on. *adding blog to reader*

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  28. FROM JSFOX

    jsfoxFeb 2, 2012 08:32 PM

    You know what I would like to see as a new contentious argument for 2012? Right now, the representational artworld is all about Classical Realism, in the whole hyper-rendered lineage of those academic folks we all know and love. However, what we're missing is the debate of the kind that engulfed the art world when Ingres and Delacroix were having at it. Where's the folks on the Delacroix side of the argument these days? Someone should be around, making representational painting in the lineage of, say, Titian-Rubens-Delacroix-Manet-Daumier-The Eight, and getting all up in the grill of the ARC folks and having a real debate about whether or not those folks are confusing rendering with drawing, and what other, less rendered modalities of contemporary representational art might look like.

    Anyhoozles, that's an argument I think would be interesting, and worth having. It could go on for a long time, too, and would distract people from all these silly snits we're holding onto. Anybody? Anyone at all?

    (crickets)

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  29. I have always wondered why all the academies nowadays are all based on 19th century techniques. Were the dutch and the Renaissance artists not interesting enough? I know some places offer workshops on artists from these time periods, but they never seem to actually cover the techniques of glazing with hard varnishes, grinding pigments, etc. Many just use the techniques of the school modified to copy one of their works. Then again, maybe nobody really knows how people like Rembrandt and Vermeer painted. I sure don't.

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    1. I agree. Sargent's alla prima technique is teachable, and can certainly be self taught with enough practice. Even Bouguereau's two-step technique is pretty straight forward (though he occasionally breaks out color layering methods that I've only seen successfully executed once by a living painter). But pre 19th century painting consistently has a paint layering process that I've never seen done by a living artist.

      Adrian

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    2. Well said, in many ways its simply way easier to teach 19th century methods. If I had to teach some Flemish 19 layer glazing method with varnish (not that I actually know one) I would most likely blow my brains out. Its so much easier to teach "hey, see that stuff over there, keep putting brushstrokes up on your canvas until they look the same."

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    3. Also, who is the living painter you were talking about? Is it me? Yeah, it must be me, I'm so cool.

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    4. Your paint execution is pretty damn good --it's the kind you can only get with meticulous patience -- but it was a painting of a stream in the Denver Museum of Art by Daniel Sprick in which he pulled off a color vibration through a dark-to-light buildup technique (I think) that I saw also done by Bouguereau's in his Adoration of the Angels here in L.A.

      But if you think it's discouraging that nobody alive (so far as I know) can put paint down like artists in the 17th century, then imagine how discouraging it is when you think that people in the 18th century were trying so hard to find the "secret mediums" of the Dutch masters that they added enough oils and resins to their colors to kill an elephant, which is why so many paintings from that period are in such awful shape. So if they couldn't figure it out, we don't stand much of a chance either.

      But I don't worry about that sort of thing so much anymore. "Keep putting brushstrokes up on your canvas until they look the same" is a long enough road to sufficiently keep me busy.

      Adrian

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  30. Yo yo.. you can't touch Vermeer or Rembrandt, that shit's too sacrosanct.

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    1. I'm not after those guys (well, maybe *late* rembrandt) in what I'm thinking about here, or even just the technical aspects that David's referencing above...but I'm more thinking about the *approaches* taken by some of the great masters who seem to be left out of our current lineages of representational art, and that seems a shame. There's an incredible show up at the deYoung in SF, "Masters of Venice", some of the greatest hits of the Kunsthistoriches in Vienna, which is itself the greatest hits of the art collection of the Hapbsburg empire, so not too shabby. Some of the pieces, Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, are just breathtaking in person, and painted in a way that make you realize that they really *can't* be seen in reproduction. F'rinstance, that crazy venetian rough canvas--sometimes, Titian paints mostly on the top of the weave, instead of pushing the paint in--it adds an almost ethereal lost edge to his forms, and you just can't quite see how heartbreakingly beautiful it is if you don't see it in person. But I digress. It seems like nobody's talking about Titian or Delacroix in art school these days--or hell, Robert Henri, except that everyone reads the Art Sprit, but doesn't really look at him or his pals--and that just seems like a crazy ommission. Is the future of representational art really only going to encompass the hyper-rendered surfaces of 19th century academic painting? Are we possibly abandoning our ability to appreciate the amazing beauty and fantastic drawing inherent in those masters who don't fit into that lineage? Troubling shit.

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  31. Its true, and I agree with you. I would even go as far as to say composition has truly taken a backseat as well. I wish I knew more about it. Its all about Bouguereau this and Bouguereau that nowadays, but in my opinion, Titian (and others) were artists just as worthy of note (more so in many regards). You could pick up Vasari's book on technique. Not sure if I would say its "troubling shit" however. "Troubling shit" would be something more like how hoverboards stills haven't been invented and there seems to be little to no signs of money being allocated for its research.

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  32. Damn internet, it's ruined all our attention spans to paint superlatively. On the other hand, I'll have to take a trip to the Kunsthistoriches at some point.

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  33. I gave up on hoverboards a long time ago, along with moving sidewalks and monorails. I think that a whole lot of stuff reached its apex of development in 70s theme parks about what the world would be like in the future. So, I guess that doesn't trouble me 'cause I'm old and resigned to that. I'm sorta concerned that the future of art is gonna look a whole lot like Bougeaureau, and not much else. Which is, you know, ok...but don't we need some bacon to go into that peanut butter? Jazz but no classical? It's just not the whole story. And, yeah, that to me is troubling shit. Largely because I'm worried that by not studying it, representational artists aren't going to understand it. And if we don't understand it, we're not going to talk about it and teach about it, and that's already happening, except worse, because the classical realist academies are expanding and training the next generation of teachers, more numerous than the last. But everyone's doing the same late-19thc-French Academy thing. It would suck to high hell if this were to become the only kind of representational art that people really understand and value, because that's all that this generation is being taught. Miles Davis without Beethoven, or else the other way around. Not cool at all. And, something that I think is dangerously close to actually coming to pass.

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