Sunday, September 2, 2007

Supporting "Real" Art

A friend recently referred me to an online article about research into some of DaVinci's painting techniques. He is aware of my interest in Renaissance artists and thought I would enjoy the article. When I wrote my thank you note for sending the article, I found myself writing my thoughts about our current place in art history. I think I learned a little about myself when I wrote this. I had never quite organized my thoughts about contemporary art in this way. I'll share them with you and invite your feedback about your own opinions regarding "modern art".

I'll begin by posting a link to the original article about DaVinci.
(This picture attributed to Reuters news service)

Here are my thoughts after reading the article:

"Its interesting that so many artists that have become the most appreciated
painted in this layering, canvas-mixing technique. Another artist (a favorite of
mine) that painted in a similar technique was American illustrator Maxfield
Parrish. He painted with only one pure pigment on each layer without mixing them on the palette. He allowed the combined transparent colors to modulate the reflected light to create his images. (Here's an online essay that explains how he did it "Maxfield Parrish")

Pure pigments create brilliant, intense images. Paintings created in this fashion appear to glow even in minimal lighting. Mixed colors get dull and neutralized in their intensity. This amateurish mixing of incompatible colors on the palette is one reason that modern artwork is missing the brilliance of the old works. Working in this style was an important
technique to master back in the days before modern chemistry made lots of subtle colors available through commercial oil paints. The Modernist movement of the early 20th century almost destroyed/supplanted artists that knew how to do this. So, now we're having to do scientific investigations of these old paintings in order to learn how these old masters got the results they did. There's a great website called Art Renewal International that supports the efforts of artists that are trying to maintain the legacy of legitimate art history. It supports artists that use traditional established techniques and methods rather than painters who gain attention just through sheer sensationalism. I'm including a link to the ARC website. Its very informative."

Art Renewal



I completely appreciate and enjoy your thoughts. The great masters of the Renaissance worked in forms never before realized. They captured the vast potential of color and light. We must always learn from them, or our works will lack depth and history.

That said, we don't live then. A lot of great art movements and geniuses have passed. I am not able to reject, out of hand, the brilliance that has been demonstrated in Modern Art. And your discernment and reticence are vital. Never accept dubious art because it's called modern. That is too often an excuse for laziness and lack of vision.

But we live in an age far away from the Renaissance. It is our world, full of faults as was Renaissance Italy. Do what the best have done: find your voice for your place in history.

I'm glad you're back.

Gemini Art said...

Thanks so much for your comment. I think it was very insightful. I feel I may have sounded too heavy-handed and opposed to modern art. That was not my intention. I do appreciate the originality and creativity of contemporary artists. As a matter of fact, the the pieces of work I own from galleries are contemporary pieces. They are reminiscent of Renaissance themes and figures. But, they are highly stylized in a unique and original manner that is totally reflective of the contemporary artist that painted them. I love all forms of artwork and think art viewers should keep variety in their artistic diet.


My friend--Forgive me for coming across as if I am some kind of expert knowing all there is to know and blasting your return post. I sincerely like your blog and have eagerly awaited your return so I can read more of your thoughts.

Everything you posted was well written and discussed. Your love of Renaissance art makes tremendous sense. We have lost our way, as you said, in this age where paints and canvasses and brushes are manufactured.

Everything you wrote was worth saying. I sincerely mean this. I got carried away by the topic. I never meant to question or argue against your ideas. I would love to return to your blog and promise to be more tactful.

Rudy said...

I blame electricity :) Old masters did not have access to light, scanners and copier machines. They had to rely on their skills and refine their techniques.

All art has its place in my heart and soul. Modern art reflects the age we are in and there are still artists who do profoundly good work.

For me its just that a bit of the romance and magic surrounding past eras have been lost. There was still so much to discover and art was lighting the way.

Today it seems the patrons of art have become large corporations and art appears to be valued when it has commercial applications.

I try to make the digital era work for me but long for the smell of linseed oil and paint on canvas.

That smell is home to me...