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Old 04-13-2005, 07:38 PM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Hey there Richard!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjKing
Keith, I agree with you...

Realism has never been dead.

I also agree that Mathis has a very skewed view of things. He points to specific artists and calls them 'dry' or 'without feeling', but when I viewed some of the art he is speaking about, I see two things:

subject matter: beauty
technique: sharp

Beauty as a subject matter? Its a subjective description to begin with.

Quote:
Many of the artists that Mathis refers to are following a 'Bougeureau' type path, painting primarily about beauty and using a very tight sharp technique to get there. I think he falls into the trap that many artists (and many young people) do of thinking that art must have some 'deeper meaning' or make some emotional statement.

Im finding a little trouble tying this together Richard. If 'deeper meaning' is a trap then I suppose all your left with is technique. True?

Quote:
I also find it interesting that many of the faults he is finding with fellow artists are faults which were leveled against Bougeureau.. vapid and without feeling.

I admire the guts it took to write the critique in the first place. Lack of an opinion is worse than having one.

Quote:
I do think that having a 'deeper meaning' or making an 'emotional statement' is a valid way to think about art, but its not the only way, which is the presupposition at the heart of Mathis' essay.

I didnt get that from the article. He actually gave praise where it was due as well as a cut or two about content. Im at a point in my own art where I am asking myself..."so I have technique, now what?".

Quote:
And this is the point where I disagree the most with Mathis. I think its interesting that he writes a column on ARC's site, since ARC (at least to me) places a 'beauty above all else' filter on all realist art, which doesn't seem to be Mathis' point at all.

Again, I didnt see ARC mentioned once in the article.

Quote:
I believe we as artists serve ourselves best when we paint what we care about or love.. We invest the most in those subjects and do our best to communicate what we see or feel about them.

Couldnt agree with you more which why I posted my question about Shiela in your beautiful portrait. It really was Mathis' point in holding Wyeth so high.

Quote:
I think 'beauty' is a totally valid subject.. I also think pain, sadness, anger, etc. all have their place in art (as well as more cerebral concerns about the world we live in..).

I dont consider beauty a subject in and of itself. I'd take Munches "scream" over a "taxidermied" Princess Diana.

Quote:
I see part of the modernist reaction to 19th century art as a reaction to the upper class' view of 'taste and style' and how that was imposed on artists from above (with the Ecole in France as a primary example of how that was done). When I read the tracts on ARC from that perspective, I see an attempt to return to those 'sensibilities'. As Keith says, I think there is room for all.. If ARC's supporters expects that the world will return to a majority of artists creating art that way, I believe they are in for a deep disappointment. The world is beyond that (thank god). The type of art that ARC supports will still sell, but the market seems to be open for all other points of view also (again, THANK GOD).

Why the ARC connection? I found this to be an article about new realism not ARC. They would never stomp on the foot of Saint Shanks.

Quote:
For myself, I'll continue to search for what I care about in art and express that (since to me, that is what all great art reduces down to.. filtering your perceptions and thoughts and putting that down in paint).. I just hope others value it as I continue on the path.

And a beautiful path it is Richard. I too value your views on this.

Quote:
Again in agreement with Keith, technique is a tool, that is all. Tools can be used for many purposes.. but the better the tools you have, the more control you have over what you create.

As a tool, it needs to be handled properly. Perhaps we are saying the same thing.

Quote:
Finally, on a very personal note, I find Nerdrum's art boring (which I think is the worst insult that can be thrown at any artist.. evoking literally nothing from the viewer). Technically wonderful but the subject matter doesn't really move me. It doesn't invalidate what he is doing one bit, it just means I'm not a potential buyer.

Good point about Nerdrum, lol. But do we want the consumers of a Britney Spears generation buying/choosing art for tomorrow's museums?
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:40 PM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Quote:
Originally Posted by patdzon
hey thanks for the awesome links!

I just read that article a couple of days ago and I thought it was very interesting. It's really good to know some of the big names in Realist art.

Bigger isnt better, lol.
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Old 04-13-2005, 08:10 PM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Personally, I admire the candor of his essay. I dont like an artworld where opinions are whispered and technique is praised for the sake of itself. Thanks Richard and Keith for taking the time to read the essay, damn it was looooong! lol.

I think all three of us agree on some of the most important things expressed in the article. Thanks again.
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Old 04-13-2005, 09:57 PM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

First: When I say 'has to have a point', I mean to an average viewer. I think some artists equate symbolism with 'a point'.. so if there isn't an overarching symbolic undertone it becomes meaningless to them. This is how I take much of Mathis' essay.. I may be wrong about him, but... He seems to value that over art that has less of a 'point'.

As a for instance, what is the point of a still life composed of pots and flowers to an average viewer? Someone who knows nothing about art? It either is attractive/beautiful or it isn't. Many of Leffel's still lifes come under this category.. they are soooo beautiful.. but have (as far as I can tell) no hidden symbolism or meaning. To me this is 'beauty for beauty's sake'.

And I don't think 'deeper meaning' is a trap. Not at all. There is some glorious work out there that has a 'deeper meaning'. My point is that there is no 'either/or' for me. Mathis' essay seems to be saying that art is meaningless without it.. on that I disagree. Yes.. I agree that art that has symbolism in it can be interesting! But art that is just beautiful is great too (again, WB and Leffel come instantly to mind)!

Personally, I don't think this is (or will ever be) easy to nail down, because art is something that either resonates with someone else or not. Some folks always want a point, some want beautiful stuff, some want a mix (I'm choice #2 or 3, I like beautiful stuff, and also like symbolic work and expressionist work).

On a purely personal note, my art will probably tend to the beauty side of things.. but with occasional brushes with symbolism.. I have ideas in both areas for work I want to do. As to how I use the technique I'm building.. I don't have an answer for that.. I can only relate to you how I reacted as a dancer.. Dancers spend years building technique.. so that when on stage you can forget about technique and simply express. This is where I want to be as an artist.

Second: The reason I mention ARC is because this is stated very prominently in the initial post. No other reason..

Third: I agree on his candor (as stated above).. Even if I disagree with some of Mathis' points, at least he has a point of view!

Finally, to me the whole tone of Mathis' essay seems somewhat 'jaded'. Maybe its just me.

This has turned into a superb discussion about art and its meaning.. thanks to all so far!
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Old 04-13-2005, 11:12 PM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Classical Vince
Bigger isnt better, lol.

I am well aware of that Vince. I admire one's work by the ideas one expresses, technique only comes 2nd.

Maybe, next time, I should be more precise in what I say and, you, be more cautious likewise.
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Old 04-14-2005, 12:13 AM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Quote:
Originally Posted by patdzon
I am well aware of that Vince. I admire one's work by the ideas one expresses, technique only comes 2nd.

Maybe, next time, I should be more precise in what I say and, you, be more cautious likewise.

So does emotional reaction to a piece of art play into your reaction at all? Or is it just ideas? (I suspect you react emotionally also.. but you aren't saying that..).

Technique is about control of all the elements. And that: specific, conscious manipulation of certain visual elements (value/color/edge) can evoke an emotional response, without any concept at all behind a piece of art (other than the artists purely visual concept, which is something a layman viewer would not understand nor would I want the viewer to understand..). In that sense a piece of art can be very evocative to the viewer, but literally about nothing idea/subject wise. For the artist it can be all about technique, and have no 'ideas' in it other than a conscious manipulation of visual affects. In other words, all about technique.

See my point?
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Old 04-14-2005, 12:49 AM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjKing
So does emotional reaction to a piece of art play into your reaction at all? Or is it just ideas? (I suspect you react emotionally also.. but you aren't saying that..).

Technique is about control of all the elements. And that: specific, conscious manipulation of certain visual elements (value/color/edge) can evoke an emotional response, without any concept at all behind a piece of art (other than the artists purely visual concept, which is something a layman viewer would not understand nor would I want the viewer to understand..). In that sense a piece of art can be very evocative to the viewer, but literally about nothing idea/subject wise. For the artist it can be all about technique, and have no 'ideas' in it other than a conscious manipulation of visual affects. In other words, all about technique.

See my point?

This is all just a matter of personal preference for me so based on experience if I happen to find the "ideas" behind a piece of artwork it would affect me on an emotional level. So generally I want it to have an "impact" on me as well.

Please no more misunderstandings. I'm tired of arguing.

I was just praising Robert for posting some of the links and I get this from people who got so sensitive over what I meant by "big".
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Old 04-14-2005, 01:20 AM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Sorry.. I wasn't trying to be argumentative.. I was just curious.. my bad.
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Old 04-14-2005, 01:23 AM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Hi Patdzon!

Please dont take this as an argument; that would be a waste of time. I apologize if my post was taken the wrong way. My point was that you mentioned you read the article but didnt comment on how those links related to it. Again, I apologize for the bluntness...I tend to be a smartie sometimes

I found your views to be right in line with some of Mathis' points: emotion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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Old 04-14-2005, 01:51 AM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjKing
First: When I say 'has to have a point', I mean to an average viewer.

I know exactly what you mean. This is very similar to other statements I have made about postmodern art; usually, you have to be an artist to understand the elements of its structure. The average viewer never gets it...uh oh, lets not get sidetracked on PoMo-talk, lol. (foot in mouth! lol)

Quote:
I think some artists equate symbolism with 'a point'.. so if there isn't an overarching symbolic undertone it becomes meaningless to them. This is how I take much of Mathis' essay.. I may be wrong about him, but... He seems to value that over art that has less of a 'point'.

I consider art to be a valuable asset to mankind. Most symbolism would only be understood during the time it is created which doesnt make for timeless art. I find value in seeking to express more timeless elements such as emotion and body language. For instance, many Greek pieces have endured the centuries without the need for symbolism.

Quote:
As a for instance, what is the point of a still life composed of pots and flowers to an average viewer? Someone who knows nothing about art? It either is attractive/beautiful or it isn't. Many of Leffel's still lifes come under this category.. they are soooo beautiful.. but have (as far as I can tell) no hidden symbolism or meaning. To me this is 'beauty for beauty's sake'.

I too seek to express beauty but not for its own sake. I dont think I would be happy as a purely still life artist. I seek humanity in my own work. The first time I saw C.Bravo's work I was impressed but each time I saw the crumpled paper and flawlessly rendered motorcycle helmets I asked myself...why?

Quote:
And I don't think 'deeper meaning' is a trap. Not at all. There is some glorious work out there that has a 'deeper meaning'. My point is that there is no 'either/or' for me. Mathis' essay seems to be saying that art is meaningless without it.. on that I disagree. Yes.. I agree that art that has symbolism in it can be interesting! But art that is just beautiful is great too (again, WB and Leffel come instantly to mind)!

I think Mathis is seeking to push art again to another level. A level where technique is infused with human emotion and a purpose. I think he aspires to some of the same principles and questions that I demand of my own work. I think WB understood the power of emotion in a work of art and expressed it beautifully.

Quote:
Personally, I don't think this is (or will ever be) easy to nail down, because art is something that either resonates with someone else or not. Some folks always want a point, some want beautiful stuff, some want a mix (I'm choice #2 or 3, I like beautiful stuff, and also like symbolic work and expressionist work).

As Patzon stated, its all about personal preferance. In addition to that, as artists, its personal responsibility to paint more than just a pretty picture. Its a personal journey for us all so as you said, it will never be easy to nail down but I intend on giving it my best shot.

Quote:
On a purely personal note, my art will probably tend to the beauty side of things.. but with occasional brushes with symbolism.. I have ideas in both areas for work I want to do.

Mine too, beauty is at the heart of my work.

Quote:
As to how I use the technique I'm building.. I don't have an answer for that.. I can only relate to you how I reacted as a dancer.. Dancers spend years building technique.. so that when on stage you can forget about technique and simply express. This is where I want to be as an artist.

Excellent analogy. Im right with you, I want technique to be second nature so I can focus on my true expression exactly as you put it. Thats a great goal, I can relate.

Quote:
Second: The reason I mention ARC is because this is stated very prominently in the initial post. No other reason..

I just wanted to clear the air on the ARC connection bc over in the Art History forum, no one could get past it to discuss the article.

Quote:
Third: I agree on his candor (as stated above).. Even if I disagree with some of Mathis' points, at least he has a point of view!

Finally, to me the whole tone of Mathis' essay seems somewhat 'jaded'. Maybe its just me.

I read the article in a cafe and had bouts of laughter. I bet everyone was wondering what I was reading, lol. True, Mathis' is jaded but he also is taking serious career risks with his essay. I respect him for that.

Quote:
This has turned into a superb discussion about art and its meaning.. thanks to all so far!

I agree!
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Old 04-14-2005, 03:10 AM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Classical Vince
I just wanted to clear the air on the ARC connection bc over in the Art History forum, no one could get past it to discuss the article.

Wow.. thats too bad. I suppose I'm a tad independent that way.. to me I'm glad ARC exists because where else could I view so much art so quickly? I've read their tracts, and find them just as polarized as some things said by the modernists.. In this I totally agree with Keith.. there is room for all things at this point in history.. Seems like realism, expressionism, abstraction, surrealism.. it can all sell to somebody... What will last? Who knows?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Classical Vince
I dont think I would be happy as a purely still life artist.

Quite agree on the purely part.. I also think of myself as 'figurative' (heck.. many of the pieces I've posted on WC are figurative.. go figure!! LOL).. although I can see doing it a fair bit.. There is real challenge there.. real challenge indeed.


I totally agree on seeking a more timeless statement on things.. I think all the truly great art has achieved that and that is why it lasts... Its certainly something I aspire to!!
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Old 04-14-2005, 04:35 AM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Hi Richard!

I tried to bait them with a clip from the essay. It was a hellova read and unless you have some kind of personal artistic interest in realist art, it was probably easy to read the first paragraph and form a quick opinion. I am actually disappointed that most of them couldnt get past that. Perhaps, questioning the content of their own work isnt as important to them as it is to me.

What will last? Who knows? Its a gamble for us all if we take our work seriously.

I find anatomy to be a damn challenge. I hated it when I first started cuz all I saw was a mess when I drew it, lol. But I know, in my heart of hearts...humanism speaks a universal language so I labor.

I may seem argumentative to some of the people here on WC but I question myself as much as I question their own opinions with my posts. Which is why I am here on WC instead of a website where most of the posters might agree with me wholly. Im really glad to have this discussion (thanks Richard!) but I must note: The Oil Forum and the Art History Forum unfortunately, arent the type of crowd who might demand of themselves, timeless art. CA is where its at!
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Old 04-14-2005, 11:12 AM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Classical Vince
Thanks for the thoughts K!

You're welcome.

Quote:
I understood completely why he praised Wyeth; it was his restraint in technique and heartfelt emotion that he expressed. He diss'd Nerdrum for his freakish imagery that doesnt live up to his self-proclaiming "kitsch" claims of his own work.

I don't view most of Nerdrum's work as 'kitsch'.

Quote:
Mathis found it to be Nerdrum's doorway to acceptance with the avant-garde, and it worked. I'd have to agree with Mathis, at those polar ends are two seperate artists with completely different inspiration.

Well, I am aware that I know very little, personally, about either artist. A Wyeth bio is on my 'to-buy' book list. But, you can't tell me that Andrew's paintings such as Christmas Morning, or Airborne, or Spring, or Breakup, or Painter's Folly, or Arctic Circle are 'normal', 'straight' realist paintings.

(And, I like Nerdrum's 'freakish' paintings, for what that's worth. Not all of them, but many of them.)

Quote:
I also agree that its "ok" to have an opinion, at least he has the huevos to lay it on the table. Politeness just because someone is painter is hogwash.

Of course.

Quote:
Cmon K, where have you been? Isnt it enough to cite the way schools nearly died out in the US and Europe?

No. First, the knowledge was not lost. Whether there was enough interest to keep these schools open, there was still information available in books, galleries, and via private one-on-one instruction. Those who were interested in learning 'traditional' painting techniques, could do so.

Quote:
Two of my instructors have had to go to struggle many years to learn technique on their own bc of the lack of training available.

Well, what (or who) do you blame? If people could have made money keeping those schools open, if interest was great enough to do so, no one would have closed those schools. You blame aesthetics; I believe it was simple economics.

There's no guarantee of an atelier education.

Quote:
If you didnt grow up in the 50s and 60s and live to tell about education in those times how can you deny it happened. They lived to tell about it, as did our beloved Arlene.

It was what it was, Vince. Again, what (or who) do you feel should be blamed?

Quote:
Are you sure you intended to cite Warhol? Hardly a realist.

Your definition of 'realist' must be far narrower than mine. Likenesses of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis? If that's not realism, what is?

Quote:
In fact, he funded the NY schools bc he was blown away with his own lack of training.

Which schools? Blown away, in what sense?

Quote:
We could argue any one of those names till Kingdom Come but it doesnt change the fact that traditional realist schools almost died out in the US.

Vince, if there aren't enough students interested in realism to keep the schools open, then those few who do want such education, simply aren't going to get it. That's just the way it is.

Do you think that people (who obviously weren't interested in learning traditional realism) should have been forced to pay tution to those schools, anyway, so that the few who were interested, could attend?

Now, I'm no socialist...

Quote:
I fail to see the connection to the historic reference Mathis made about realism.

Which 'historic reference' was that?

Quote:
I certainly wouldnt hug the man for his artwork (lol!) but I would credit him for having enough sense to know the importance of a realist school.

Well, then...

Quote:
ARC had nothing to do with the article, never once did I see it mentioned. This was Mathis' essay. I'd rather be bashed with opinionated sticks and stones than dropped Names.

Vince, Mathis apparently still agrees with many of the ARCs positions vis a vis visual art.

Quote:
Dali is not a realist for one.

Again, your definition of 'realist' must be far narrower than my own.

Quote:
Second, had a look at my Realism thread? Just mentioning the damn topic was controversial around here despite the stats on the poll (65yes/35no split). Yet there was a general concensus that we tip-toe through our opinions about Art despite our own interest in realist technique within our own work. Wassup with that? One of Mathis' most interesting points.

Vince, as you may remember, I was against the formation of this forum. I still feel that 'realism' is a tool, a means to an end, and that it was fully represented in the various media forums (most of the painters in the 'Oil Painting' forum are realists, at least as I use the term), as well as in the Abstract/Contemporary forum. (The 'contemporary' part of that forum includes a great many realists.)

Quote:
K, did you get through the introduction? I think the one thing I hate the most about artists, is the tendency to accept "anything" and "everything" as "art". Its a popular idea but not one that I subscribe to.


Vince, I said 'more than one kind of art', not 'anything and everything'. If you've read my posts in 'Debates', you know that I do not believe that everything is art, but I do believe that everything has the potential to be(come) art.

It's a subtle difference, to be sure (and, thus, probably lost on most people, but I doubt you're one of them), but it is a difference, nonetheless.

Quote:
In addition to "your" style, I'd be looking for intellect and content. Not to say that my own work is filled with it but I intend on exploring my own intellect deeper than a nicely colored Rothko.

Have you read any of Rothko's writings? He had a very intellectual approach to art, and I also admire his work. It's not what I do, but I don't limit my taste to only my own work. (Odd Nerdrum has an intellectual approach as well, which should be clear, whether or not you enjoy his work.)

There are artists whose work I don't like (Picasso, on the border between realism and abstraction; Pollock, rather extreme abstraction; and Koons--a realist). And, there is work which is described as art, which I don't consider to be art (On Kawara, Marina Abromovic, Joseph Beuys, etc.) Their work may be interesting, may even be important, but I don't call it 'art'.

Keith.
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Old 04-14-2005, 11:18 AM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Quote:
Originally Posted by patdzon
I am well aware of that Vince. I admire one's work by the ideas one expresses, technique only comes 2nd.

Maybe, next time, I should be more precise in what I say and, you, be more cautious likewise.

Technique can be an idea, too.

It can be, but it may not be...

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Old 04-14-2005, 11:38 AM
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Re: Miles Mathis on New Realism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Classical Vince
This is very similar to other statements I have made about postmodern art; usually, you have to be an artist to understand the elements of its structure.

Still, you have to be a painter (not just an artist) to understand about atmospheric perspective, nonlocal colour, certain types of brushes and brushstrokes--let alone rabbit skin glue, imprimatura, sfumato, etc. I noticed things at the Dali exhibit in Philadelphia last month, that the 'non-painters' around me didn't see--often even when I pointed them out.

They simply hadn't been interested enough to learn the 'background' in order to be able to notice such things.

Quote:
The average viewer never gets it...uh oh, lets not get sidetracked on PoMo-talk, lol. (foot in mouth! lol)

While some painters may be interested in appealing to the 'average viewer', I have never been. There is even the case where a work might appeal to the 'average' viewer, and yet still hold appeal for the knowledgeable afficianado. (Think: Shakespeare, at least in his own time.)

I don't see my work as ever having broad appeal, and that's fine with me. I truly don't care about the 'average' viewer, any more than I care about 'average' art.

Quote:
I consider art to be a valuable asset to mankind.

Try as I might, I cannot think in those terms. It seems like you're trying to force others to support art, because it's 'for their own good'--like Vince's complaint about the 'realist' schools. Art is a valuable asset to me. Everyone else is on their own.

If no one else valued art, I'd still be trying to do what I do.

Quote:
Most symbolism would only be understood during the time it is created which doesnt make for timeless art. I find value in seeking to express more timeless elements such as emotion and body language. For instance, many Greek pieces have endured the centuries without the need for symbolism.

But much Greek and Roman works include some serious symbolism, nonetheless. There are depictions of Echo, and Psyche, etc., that cannot be understood, without at least some additional knowledge, knowledge that is external to the art itself.

Sure, they can be enjoyed as they are. But, I enjoy them more, when I know more about what they were intended to mean.

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I think Mathis is seeking to push art again to another level. A level where technique is infused with human emotion and a purpose. I think he aspires to some of the same principles and questions that I demand of my own work. I think WB understood the power of emotion in a work of art and expressed it beautifully.

Much of Bougereau's work just seems silly to me. Sure, it's gorgeous (often sickeningly so--'beauty' is a concept I find problemmatic, to say the least), but WB can be so very silly, too. I would love to have those skills, but I would employ them to a far different end.

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As Patzon stated, its all about personal preferance.

This is the thing that I don't feel that the ARC (and its admirers) 'get'. They seem to think that there are clear 'rules' for which art is 'good', and why. They are so narrow in their definitions (of 'realism', of 'emotion', etc.) that they champion--not on a very narrow definition of 'art'--but a very narrow definition of 'painting', as well.

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In addition to that, as artists, its personal responsibility to paint more than just a pretty picture.

I am very, very resistant to the notion of 'responsibility' in art. Again, I resist the idea that I can, or should, speak for anyone other than myself. We're debating the topic right now over in 'Debates' if anyone is interested.

Keith.

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