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Old 07-22-2005, 06:14 AM
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

have to correct myselve , its goldstein not goldberg , "teaching art" academies and schools from vasari to albers
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Old 07-22-2005, 11:47 AM
Nickel Nickel is offline
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

Hi everyone! I will also correct my post, I meant to type forum not fourm. I shouldn’t reply too fast when I am having blurry spells too! Hey Jon, is blurry any better? You are getting some interesting answers. Best Nickel
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Old 07-22-2005, 07:12 PM
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

voltman - Thanks for suggesting the book. Just to be sure “Goldstein, “Teaching Art” is the author and title of the book. I’ll look for it! I am very interested in learning what I can about classical academic teaching methods.

It seems to me that the Impressionists tended to draw what they saw very quickly. They would apply a few basic rules of composition to make things look good.

Classical painting of the sort going back to the Renaissance draws realistically, usually from sight, but then it is also reformatted to fit within various formal compositional ideas of proportion.



There was a major change in artistic ideas that resulted from the French Revolution. Actually more exactly, the thinking that caused the Revolution also affected ideas on art. The changes to the art market were only the beginning. There are many late 19th painter who are wonderful but do show signs of moving quite a bit away from “pure classicism” but is “classic” in the sense that it has been respect for a long time. Bierstadt may be more “Romantic”.

It has also been interesting for me to consider what being classical could meant to an artist. If our current galleries are set up to favor modern art, what would a classical gallery be like. If the university art schools went “classical”, how would there requirements and project change.

Jon -I just looked up “classical” in an Art History dictionary that I have. They have three definitions and I suspect that most “Classical Forum” folks would be tempted to add a fourth. It’s no wonder that you asked this question.

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Old 07-26-2005, 10:10 PM
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

classical art is about a canon , 12 or 13 statues where dominant , dont know wich for sure lets ask the arthistoryforum; they represent the cosmos or the planets,and more.

its also about a formal standart ,
nothing was left to chance,
a more finish to end aproach/ translation
everything had to look polished like the statues modeldrawings too
it is not realism either, but ideallisation
there was no direct paintin

the academy tought classisism

classic also refers to being of high standart,

cool thread
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Old 07-26-2005, 10:47 PM
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

"My wife plays banjo, but not in the classical style."
-- Colonel Potter to Corporal (Sargent) Klinger, M*A*S*H
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Old 07-26-2005, 11:42 PM
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalleryOrlando
"My wife plays banjo, but not in the classical style."
-- Colonel Potter to Corporal (Sargent) Klinger, M*A*S*H

LOL!

Colonel Potter was a "classic" himself.
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Old 08-03-2005, 04:41 PM
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jo_b
Hi Jon

Again quoting Fred Ross,
"Modernists have not expanded the definition of art at all. What they have done is attempted to destroy art, created icons that represent this destruction, and then called these icons the thing that they have destroyed i.e. works of art. A urinal or an empty canvas, hung on the wall of a museum, are especially pure examples of this. They are not works of art but symbols of the victory of the Huns, who have sacked the bastions and forums of our culture. It would be like saying that the Roman Forum today is far greater architecture than it was when all the buildings and streets were intact."
This is just my opinion, but I don't believe I am alone in it.

Jodi

This is interesting. And may I say that I disagree with Fred Ross, while respecting his right to say it. I don't think that art installations or minimalism could be said to be responsible for 'sacking the bastions' of this or any other culture, nor do they represent the 'victory of the Huns' or any other obsolete ethnicity.

I believe (just my opinion, worth what you paid for it) that every 'avant-garde' art piece is only a question asked of the accepted wisdom. I believe the question is "If this object is art, can this other object be art?" "If not, why not?"
And maybe it's not up to this generation to say it is or isn't art, but is an assessment for the historians 50 or 100 years hence.

The guiding force is and always was the community that buys art -- museums and collectors. Example: as long as the Saatchis support Damien Hurst, sharks in formaldehyde will continue to be exhibited in galleries.

Personally, I think love of classical art doesn't preclude appreciation for modern art. Do you only eat one type of food? Do you only listen to one musical group? Do you only watch Merchant/Ivory (or Wes Anderson or whatever) movies? Me, I like all types of art. Make that LOVE all types of art. I try to suspend judgment to understand what's being said by the artist.

A true funny: couple of years ago at the Capodimonte Museum in Naples, there were two exhibitions (in addition to the in situ treasures of Roman Art): recent excavations from Pompeii ... and new works by Jeff Koons. I was a Babe in Toyland that day!

Oh, and I DO prefer the Roman Forum as a ruin. So did the Renaissance artists, who used it as the backdrop for countless paintings. If you want to see a reconstruction of Roman architecture, have a stroll down the National Mall in DC. L'Enfant tried his best, but it's kinda boring. IMHO, of course.

Marya
P.S. If any art form could be said to be responsible for the "sacking the bastions and forums of our culture", Mr. Ross should look at what's on television, at the movies, and in video games. Not to mention the Internet. Let's not throw stones at the poor modern artists who are just trying to get a little attention in a noisy world.

Aside to voltman: est-ce que c'est mon photo d'une fenetre a Neuschwanstein que t'a utilise dans ton avatar? T'a tres bien fait, mon cher!
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Old 08-10-2005, 10:51 PM
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

My opinion, FWIW, is that the term "classical art" refers to the Western tradition of representational art that began with the ancient Greeks and continued through the Academics of the 19th century. Various ideals and themes have prevailed at various times, but I think the progression has been steady as one movement in the tradition led to another. I believe that many 19th century academics continued to use canons developed by Polyklitos, there has been a continuous thread unbroken the entire time.

I don't think I'd include the Impressionists in the tradition, but probably would include realists like Eakins, Homer or Dagnan Bouveret.

As far as I know, among the Surrealists, Dali deliberately mastered classical techniques, so in that sense at least he painted in the classical tradition.
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Old 08-16-2005, 03:40 PM
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

Great question... and I wanted to add my own ideas upon the topic but I must admit that I have had more than a few misgivings or second thoughts about posting in this context (the classical forum). I have doubts about how my comments might be taken by some who sing the praises of such reactionaries as Fred Ross and the ARC and suggest that what defines "Classicism" (as opposed to Modernism) is a humanism, respect for the achievements of the past, and a willingness to learn "proper technique" (whatever that may be). I might question just how humanistic Bosch was (always struck me as rather misanthropic)... or Breughel... or Goya... to say nothing of Carravaggio. Surely the work of many other "old masters" is quite nihilistic/existentialistic/grotesque... quite far from "humanistic". Anyhow...I'm not up for a big argument... I leave those to the debates forum. Perhaps as Dave suggested you might also post this question to the Abstract/Contemporary forum. Until then, let me get into my answer:

"Classicism" beyond involving a number of specific historical moments (Greek... or rather Athenian art of some few short years under Pericles, Roman art of the early Empire [especially Caesarian and Augustine], Neo-Classical/Imperial France, post-WWI Modernism) is an artistic style with very definite and well-defined formal rules or characteristics, foremost among these being:

1. A logical clarity, naturalism, and simplicity of form
2. A high degree of polish, or perfection of finish
3. A dispassionate expression or observation that favors reason or intellect over emotion


In the field of Music, Mozart, Haydn, and early Beethoven are seen as the highest practitioners of "classicism". Anyone having studied classical music and its formal characteristics will immediately recognize the classical musical forms... the manner in which they logically and predictably unfold. (I do not mean this in a critical manner... quite wonderful and beautiful things were done within these forms), yet one needs only look at Bach to recognize how the earlier, pre-classical music differed. The Baroque demanded a far greater virtuosity. By comparison, there's a certain simplicity to a Mozart piano concerto that is far removed from the pyrotechniques demanded by Bach or later Romantic music (late Beethoven, Liszt, etc...) While Bach's form has an unequalled mathematical logic... it is not easily grasped by reason... A classical composer might have spoken of it as being too "gothic"... too "artificial". A romanticist, on the other hand, is far too "self-expressive" of emotion and likely to challenge traditional forms. A modernist composer might tear these very forms apart.

If we speak of "classicism" as applied to the theater, Cornielle and Racine are the dramatists who immediately come to mind. These writers fully took Aristotle's "rules" of drama to heart. Their plays unfold in a fully logical manner: each action leads to a logical (predictable?) reaction, etc... until the conclusion. This logic of narrative is reinforced by the formal "simplicity" of language and of setting. There are no jumps in time or space; rather the drama unfolds in a single continuous setting.

Shakespeare clearly was not a "classicist". His plays often involve drastic jumps of time and space. His language is far more "baroque". Its been noted, for example, that Racine used only some 2000 different words in the composition of his plays, while Shakespeare used some 25,000... over 2000 different words describing flowers alone! Shakespeare was criticized by classicists for his manner of blurring distinctions between tragedies, comedies, and pastorals... He was also taken to task for his "illogical" habit of placing words of great wisdom into the mouths of fools ("neither a borrower no a lender be...") while making noble or aristocratic characters mouth words of great vulgarity. Worse of all were his "digressions"... such as the comic graveyard scene in Hamlet ("Alas, poor Yorick!) which broke from the clear and simple unfolding of the central drama.

Here, I might make a digression (I'm no classicist) and address the notion of the humanistic superiority of "classicism". Personally, I find Shakespeare's characters... or those of Rembrandt, Goya, Velazquez (who were clearly not classicists) to be far more touchingly real and human than all the classical, idealized types of Racine... or Raphael or J.L. David (for all their beauty). Don't get me wrong... I love Mozart and Raphael, and Ingres... but I also find the spiritual longing of the Romanesque and Gothic, the open emotionalism of the Baroque and the Romantics, and the angst and confusion expressed by the Modernists to be fabulous art.

So what is "classical art" if we are speaking of the visual arts? The same rules apply. Among classical artists one might include Myron, Praxiteles, the sculptors of Old Kingdom Egypt, the sculptors of Imperial Rome, Raphael, Leonardo DaVinci, Piero della Francesca, Giotto, Poussin, Claude Lorraine, Vermeer, Bellini, Jacques Louis David, Seurat... perhaps Matisse... definitely Mondrian and Bridgett Riley (no one said anything about "realism" as being a requirement of "classicism") Balthus... maybe even Chuck Close. All of these artists fit the "rules": the clarity and simplicity of form... the high polish (no loose brushwork that might convey emotion... it was an anathema of classicism that an artist should reveal himself in his work), the dispassionate expression...

Too often, I believe, the term "classical art" is simply taken to mean art of the old masters (or that of contemporaries who paint like them). Yet Bosch, Brueghel, and Goya were clearly not classicists. Their subjects were too fantastic, grotesque, and emotional. Their formal language was often convoluted ("baroque" or "gothic") and lacked the smooth finish... their brushwork too freely left traces of the artist. And Rembrandt most certainly is no classicist. He paints "ugly" old non-idealized people; he conveys a great deal of emotion, and he revels in the artist's touch in his rich impastos and his gestural lines. Matisse, on the other hand, creates paintings that are plainly dispassionate in nature, make clear a simplicity of form and often convey a certain idealized beauty. Only his brushwork (and not on all pieces) might be questioned as being too "self-revelatory. And Mondrian... the simplicity of form is unquestionable... even the simplicity of color, rooted in the primary colors favored by Raphael and the other Renaissance artists. His work is clearly dispassionate and highly polished... no traces of loose brushwork here.

Too often the terms such as "classicism", "realism", "Old Master" and "Modernism" are thrown about without any attempt at defining what is truly meant by any of these. An "old master" may create work that looks like this:



like this:



or like this:



***continued...
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Old 08-16-2005, 03:41 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: What Is Classical Art?

To my eyes there is a vast range of styles, techniques, and artistic intentions to be found in these works... and in the works of the "old masters" in general. And what of "realism?" Is "realism" nothing more than the ability to mimic objects as they appear visually? I would question the notion that the well rendered painting of some apples, an antique vase, a rich brocaded tapestry, and a violin arranged in a pleasing manner is by definition: "realistic". I don't have any of that crap laying around on my table. Perhaps if I were to paint a "realistic" view of my kitchen table it should include some keys, an empty soda can, a bag from McDonalds, etc... In other words... in some ways a painting such as this:



is no less artful (or artificial?) than a painting like this:



"Modernism" is a term that is just slippery and open to stereotypes. Yet what is "modernism"? A modernist painting might look like this:



or this:



but it may also look like this:

Claudio Bravo, Venus

or this:

Lucian Freud, Nude with Green Chair

or this:

Gerhardt Richter, Reading


Looking at such a range of work... it’s hard to understand the notion of Modernism's supposed antagonism to "realism" and "classical" art. Yes, there were critics and artists who spouted volumes of rhetoric about the death of "realism"... but this was largely at the outset of Abstract Expressionism... when such artists felt the need to justify themselves... when such artists were struggling for their artistic survival. Many such artists admitted years later that not only did they continue to admire and respect "realistic" art, but they also had doubts about their own work.

And indeed there are endless gallery owners who ignore talented artists in favor of the latest "flavor of the month"... but there are talented abstractionists as well as realists who are just as much ignored. As art historian, Edward Lucie Smith notes in his recent book, "Art Now", quality realism has long maintained a strong market in America especially regardless of the critics.

I should also say something about the notion that "Modernists" do not value technical skill and that they have no respect for history. I should say that it is just as challenging (albeit involving a differing set of skills) to create a good abstract painting as it is to paint well realistically. If the mimetic skills are all that is valued where does that place the architect or ceramist? Indeed, if the mimetic skills are all that matters how can we immediately discern a Velazquez from a Vermeer from an Ingres? If the mimetic skills are all that matters why even continue to paint after photography? The obvious answer is that the skill at rendering the illusion of visual "reality" is not the central measure of art. In spite of this I should also note that many modernists and abstractionists were quite well trained in the traditional life-drawing/painting manner. This painting, for example:



is the product of the 14 year-old Picasso, while the following mural was created for the Department of Maritime Commerce :



by the young Willem DeKooning. DeKooning, indeed, shocked many students at the famous modernist art program at Black Mountain College by insisting that they master the most meticulous sort of drawing from observation before any thoughts of wild gestural painting. As you might suspect from such examples, not only did most Modernists admire the techniques of old master drawing and painting, but they were also in awe of art history. Picasso loved the Louvre and made constant references to his artistic predecessors: Gauguin, El Greco, the medieval Iberian sculptors, painters, and illuminators, African carvers, Degas, Velazquez, etc... etc.... Motherwell wrote extensively upon art history. Guston's artistic heroes (spelled out in writing on a late painting) were not his abstract peers... but rather Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Masaccio, Tiepolo, Max Beckmann. Many other modernists were just as much life-long students of the old masters.

I find the image of Modernism portrayed by the ARC amounts to nothing more than sour grapes. The fact of the matter is that the claims made by the ARC are often absurd and indefensible. As if in a flashback to the Paris salons of the 1870's, Bougereau is given the grand prize and proclaimed as the greatest figure painter of all time. Not Michelangelo, Rubens, Titian, Velazquez, Raphael... but Bougereau. This is not to say that Bougereau is a bad painter. He was probably unfairly vilified by the Impressionists and other Modernist artists who were equally unfairly treated by Bougereau and the great academies. He has a few wonderful paintings... but it must be admitted that he can be overly sweet... coy...sentimental... and he lacks any of the innovation and relevance to the time of Courbet, Degas, or Manet.
Contemporary realists who have attained any success within the "art world"... artists from Balthus, to Bravo, to Freud, to Philip Pearlstein, to Gerhard Richter are dismissed just as summarily by the ARC as Picasso and Rothko. Why? one might ask. Surely there are few artists who can match their ability in painting from observation... and few with such skills have the equally important skill or talent for creating images that are relevant or speak to our time. I'll leave my thoughts upon this to myself. Suffice it to say that although I have painted abstractly for the past three years and consider myself a "modern" or "contemporary" painter... I have spent most of my artistic career working in a "realistic" mode, have the greatest respect for "realism" and "classicism", and have even begun something of a return to realism or painting from observation as of late.
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Old 08-18-2005, 12:05 AM
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stlukesguild
"Classicism" beyond involving a number of specific historical moments (Greek... or rather Athenian art of some few short years under Pericles, Roman art of the early Empire [especially Caesarian and Augustine], Neo-Classical/Imperial France, post-WWI Modernism) is an artistic style with very definite and well-defined formal rules or characteristics, foremost among these being:

1. A logical clarity, naturalism, and simplicity of form
2. A high degree of polish, or perfection of finish
3. A dispassionate expression or observation that favors reason or intellect over emotion


...

I disagree with one of your premises, that "classical" (Western) art doesn't have to be realistic. I'm admittedly not the expert on art history, but I think it does have to be realistic. So, for me, that leaves out the Greek archaic period and the better known stuff from the 20th century. Aside from the point that some of the more recent guys, from the impressionists on, were deliberately trying to go in a different direction from classical.

RE characteristic number 3, I'd be inclined to say that classical art doesn't necessarily favor reason, intellect or technique over emotion, it may very well use those things to express emotion.

I do agree with you that putting "classical" art in a box is not always a straightforward or obvious exercise.

I like Jacques Barzun's characterization of "realistic" art by the old masters, something along the lines of: "If the old masters painted realism, how come all of their work looks so different?

However, to me, part of defining classical art is to note that it deliberately built on what went before, as opposed to rebelling against it.
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

Quote:
I disagree with one of your premises, that "classical" (Western) art doesn't have to be realistic. I'm admittedly not the expert on art history, but I think it does have to be realistic. So, for me, that leaves out the Greek archaic period and the better known stuff from the 20th century. Aside from the point that some of the more recent guys, from the impressionists on, were deliberately trying to go in a different direction from classical.

SLG- But then I am still presented with the problem of defining "realism". Is this painting "realistic"?:



Obviously the figures and forms are rendered in an illusionistically "realistic" manner... but the organization of the figures into a shallow space, the clustering of the figures into artful forms (the rectangle created by the bodies of the male figures, the triangle created by the women), and the rigidity of the poses... are these "realistic". And then there's the question of whether "realism" is the central measure of "classicism". Paintings such as Rembrandt's hanging cow or Gericault's still-lifes of arms and legs collected from the guillotines are grossly "realistic"... but would in no way have been accepted by a "classicist" (let us say the French Academy). I suppose that "classicism" as originally defined in the ateliers and academies never thought to require "realism" or "illusionism" because these were accepted requirements of all western painting. But then again... we have buildings/architecture and furnishings that are "classical" in style... and those that are not... so it would seem that "illusionism" was never a requirement of classicism... unless we accept the notion that the role of painting is purely mimetic/illusionistic which many do not.

Quote:
RE characteristic number 3, I'd be inclined to say that classical art doesn't necessarily favor reason, intellect or technique over emotion, it may very well use those things to express emotion.

Historically, "classicism" was characterized by an avoidance of the extremes of emotion. Romanticism, which began as a rebellion against Neo-classical equilibrium revelled in the extremes of passion: lust, violence, madness. This is not to say that classicism is emotionless or lacking in expression. Ingres is just as expressive as Van Gogh... but clearly not expressive of violent passions.

Quote:
I do agree with you that putting "classical" art in a box is not always a straightforward or obvious exercise.

I like Jacques Barzun's characterization of "realistic" art by the old masters, something along the lines of: "If the old masters painted realism, how come all of their work looks so different?

Oh yes... exactly!

Quote:
However, to me, part of defining classical art is to note that it deliberately built on what went before, as opposed to rebelling against it.

But then it is just as misleading to assume that all Modernism was built upon rebelling against the art of the past. Yes, some art is unquestionably rooted in a rebellion, dismissal, or rejection of the past: Dada, futurism, neo-Dada, conceptual art, etc... many Modernist, however, clearly admired the art of their predecessors and built upon what they had done. At the same time, however, they felt unable to simply mimic them, especially at the point in history in which they had found themselves. Degas, for example, began his career attempting to become the next great history painter... he soon discovered, however, that history painting as he understood it from his predecessors, was a somewhat absurd undertaking at that point in history: cupids, angels, Venuses rising from the sea seemed more than unreal in industrial Paris... they were ridiculous. He holds on to the themes and often the poses... but he finds their equivalent in the modern world. The multi-figured dramas of the past: battle scenes and mythologies become a day at the races and a night at the ballet; Venus rising from the waves becomes a nude young woman at her bath. The line continuity from Rubens to Delacroix to Van Gogh to Soutine to DeKooning seems clear and unbroken. Damian Hirst or the Chapman Brothers on the other hand....
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Old 08-18-2005, 05:59 PM
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

sluksgilde, I like your well informed and eloquent writting in this thread/ further more the posting of images to support your statement, very nice answers. My English aint that perfect, hopefully there are no misunderstandings because of that.

That The categories, the formal rules that you brought to attention of Classical Art are at work in some of Modern art is an intriguing fact and I thank you for pointing this out, this is a very interesting idea.

Although I believe what you say is of great meaning, to me it looks like there is a confusion at hand by the application of this formula to modernist art:

1. A logical clarity, naturalism, and simplicity of form
2. A high degree of polish, or perfection of finish
3. A dispassionate expression or observation that favors reason or intellect over emotion

I believe there is one major factor missing in the categorisation u put forth, Sam Cree said the about the samejust before i was posted

The continuity of tradition This is continuation in technique, in drawing, in composition and in large parts a persistence in content is what makes a work of art classical or not.

Would Modernist art not be better served by stating , stressing that, just like in modern music, they where challenging traditional forms, even tearing them apart? An example could be the early compositions of Kandinsky, the first landscapelike abstract paintings in his lyrical abstract periodare tilted motives in a ¾ perspective/

e%20II.jpg

later on Kandinsky will abandon composition on a whole in overall composing.



i fail to see otherwise, modernist art has bended the rules even broke them, it is there merrit,

Classical art was , and still is about meeting the standard of the great masters, it is about a continuation of representation. In classical art this representation is idealistical/ it depicts not nature as it is seen, but how it should be seen. Or how it should be brought to i higher lever thrue mediation of the idea,

Even in the days of Rembrandt , Bellini, Carraci a distincion between idealisation and realism was made, the real was an obscure low category in Neoplatonic theory ; somewhat earlier Vasar writes in his "lives" that MIchelangelo once told him how pittyfull it was that Titiaan was not a good draughtsmen, because he could only draw what he was able to see with his eyes.


The confusion about what realism exactly is: Realism as a specific style in mid 19th century , but also a tendency, Gustave Courbet's statement in 1861 that "painting is an essentially concrete art and can only consist in the representation of real and existing things, they painted the modern world.

Rembrandt was a realist and he had one of the only ateliers in wich the female nude was drawn an painted, his atelier was notorious for it. He painted ugly old people , you are right about that. This figure by Rembrandt however I would not call realism, this is an idealisation ,



Contemporary figuration

has not seldom a realistic approach, Claudio Bravo is called a contemporary realist, but I would doubt if he can be called that in a strict manner , I see a lot of reference to classical works; also in formal painterly approach I would call his work classical inclined.



The story might be mocked or played with , there are reference too the modern world but in formal and compostional ways I lld call this classical



an example of something called contemporary realism could be Pearsteins figurepainitings, there is far to much anatomical detail to meet the classical standard; his compositions are disturbing and unbalanced.



The classical model looked like this



anatomical detail was supressed in favor of clarity and simplicity of form
and dispassionate expression or observation/ in short the 3 categories above


Or like this, modeldrawings had to be adjusted to look classical cfr Venus



I guess the work of Anthony Ryder is somewhere in between realism and idealisation but i have a tendency to say it is the second;



One of the modernist ways of drawing the model looked like this,

by matisse



somehow I can not see this work as a way of idealising the human figure, it is definatly not a realist portrait , it is an abstraction, a reflection on the tools of art , a purification. It is probably done too hasty and the gestual linework shows the artists temperament/ but it also shows us geometrical reduction there is a mediation of the idea, still cant say its classical
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Old 08-18-2005, 09:17 PM
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

St. Luke’s Guild - Hi! I remember you from the old Paint-L days! It’s good to hear from you!

It’s been my experience that many, particularly “university modernist” dismiss and dimenish the connections between modernism and older art. I’ve heard very real shock and amazement over the fact that Guston admired Piero della Francesca. Or that others had good backgrounds in traditional training.

The connections between modernism and 19th Century art are particularly interesting and enlightening.



Voltman - Very interesting ideas!



The concepts of naturalism and idealism definitely create a tug of war. If an artist carefully considers both concepts and thinks about the mirits and restictions of both, they will have a broad idea of the range of styles that are availble to a “realistic painter”.



Is it the gestural drawing style or the geometic simplification that makes the Matisse more modern? Does classical drawing always have to be fully finished? Or is it just that there is the de - emphasis on those initial sketches? I do remember reading once that there was increase interest in the first sketches as a type of art during the 19th C.

I also sense, particularly older forms of classicism, a greater emphasis on formal composition often with grids or geometric construction as a basis and more interest in proportions.

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Old 08-19-2005, 12:16 AM
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Re: What Is Classical Art?

Quote:
The continuity of tradition This is continuation in technique, in drawing, in composition and in large parts a persistence in content is what makes a work of art classical or not... Would Modernist art not be better served by stating , stressing that, just like in modern music, they were challenging traditional forms, even tearing them apart?


SLG- I agree that a good number of Modernists did indeed construct their art through an act of dismantling or even dismissing the elements of Western "classical" realism. On the other hand... it might be noted that Modernism owes just as much to an opening up or an awareness to other traditions: Medieval art, Asian art, Arabic art, Pre-Columbian art, African art, pre-historic art, etc... was given serious consideration as ART and not merely as anthropological oddities.

Picasso is perhaps the central figure of Modernism and is often accused of leading the attack against the traditional. As can be seen in the post above we already know that Picasso had more than adequate training in the skills of the traditional academic arts. If we explore his works further, however, we we quickly discover that in spite of his revolutions or evolutions of space and form, he still made constant references to his artistic predecessors... in several traditions.

If we take "Les Demoiselles D'Avignon":



...one of the seminal works of Modernism, we can unearth a number of artistic models from which he drew upon. First and perhaps foremost was Picasso's immediate predecessor: Cezanne:



Picasso drew upon Cezanne's "bracket-like" composition, the crude, flattened figures set in the landscape... indeed several of the poses are almost lifted verbatim from various other "bather" paintings by Cezanne. Yet Cezanne is not the only connection to the tradition of Western painting. Picasso clearly drew his sky from El Greco... from a painting such as the "View of Toledo":



One can imagine Picasso not merely giving homage to his great Spanish predecessor, but also wishing to lend something of the turbulent forboding of El Greco's paintings to his dangerous women.

And what of these women? The usual explanation is that Picasso was drawing upon the masks of African Art:



This was indeed part of the formula. Yet it must also be noted that Picasso was quite fascinated with the work of Medieval Iberian/Spanish artists, including many long-ignored frescoes as well as the great illuminated manuscripts:



There has always seemed to be more than a passing connection between the eyeless figures fleeing death from the skies (in the form of birds) in these ancient Apocalyptic illuminations and the figures fleeing another air-born horror in "Guernica":





Lest it be thought these are but a few scattered examples of Picasso making a nod to tradition... to the art of the past, it should be noted that his art is full of such allusions... such attempts at continuity with the past in spite of his "modernism" There are references... even direct borrowings from Velazquez, Rembrandt, Goya, Degas, Manet, Raphael... even Ingres:

I've always loved the manner in which Picasso aludes back to the beautiful portrait of Mme. Moitessier:



In his loving portrait of his then-love, Marie Therese Walter. Note especially how the shape of Mme M.'s lace hair-piece reflected in the mirror suggests the very shape of the male figure in Picasso's mirror:

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