Meaning & Purpose Chapter 4

Chapter 4 of my research book about the morality and politics of our time as seen through the subjects of representational art is now available.

What makes representational art matter? Technique or content?

What We Are Painting

I have examined the content of 21st -century representational art to ask what the choice of subjects tells us about what artists think is important. I am disregarding questions of technique or style to look at the possibility of creating meaning in our fractured age. While the increasing popularity of fantasy and imagined worlds as subjects for representational art suggests they offer meaning to many, I have never saved any such image for future consideration, so these subjects are not discussed.

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Meaning & Purpose Chapter 3

Chapter 3 of my research book about the morality and politics of our time as seen through the subjects of representational art is now available.

Have modern ideas rendered representational art obsolete?

What Happened to the Traditional Subjects

Scientific rationalism is one of the reasons cited for the demise of traditional beliefs. Joseph Wright of Derby captured many gripping scenes of scientific exploration in the 18th century, such as An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, 1768, shown today at National Gallery, London.

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Meaning & Purpose Chapter 2

Chapter 2 of my research book about the morality and politics of our time as seen through the subjects of representational art is now available.

How was it that art in the past claimed moral authority?

Traditional Subjects

What painters represented in times past quite certainly indicates what was considered important. The mere survival of these works of art testify to their lasting might.

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Meaning & Purpose

What can we learn about the morality and politics of our time from the subjects that representational artists choose?

I presented the paper titled “Meaning and Purpose: Morality and Politics in 21st Century Representational Art” at The Representational Art Conference 2015, an international cultural event in Ventura, California. The event included presentations, demonstrations, and trips to five gallery exhibits.

Michael Pearce and Michael Lynn Adams founded the conference in 2012 to provide a place for the discussion of the philosophy and practice of artists in the universities, colleges, ateliers and private studios where the techniques of the old masters are still taught and used in the present day. California Lutheran University Arts Initiative presents the conference to focus academic attention on the work of traditionally trained artists, to identify commonalities and to help to understand the unique possibilities of representational art.

I am now publishing my paper in serial form on my blog. You’ll see a new chapter each week as we delve into this subject.

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Ring Them Bells

 

On this Easter Sunday, I give thanks for what it is in the human spirit that welcomes the concepts of resurrection and reconciliation. I made this painting with my dedicated models Annie Jefferson and Mona Reeves during a period of a year and a half. In serious moments, we talked about the Emmanuel AME massacre in Charleston. William Faulkner wrote “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past,” in his Southern Gothic novel, Requiem for a Nun. Our American past we must actively shape with hope into a better life today.

Now for somethings completely different

Playing around drawing in ways that I don’t usually is giving me a chance to have fun this week. I am working in the Croton studio with my friends Eddi Fleming and Kristin Costa. I drew the drawing on the left with ballpoint pen on Fabriano Artistico rag paper and then applied washes of two acrylic colors. I pressed a sheet of Strathmore pastel paper over the wet washes, and then used that sheet for a drawing in graphite on the right.  Since the color printed in the reverse, I reposed Kristin looking the opposite direction. The Mitsubishi pencils are so rich that all I needed were the B and 2B.

A point or three to ponder

“Yes, the pantheon of truly transformative, not merely excellent, painters is almost all white, and it most certainly is almost all male. But the best critique of this reality is a parallel reality equally as energetic.

“I suspect every ambitious artist wants to do more than passably good work.

“The value of what we produce is determined by comparison with and in contrast to what our fellow citizens find engaging.

“As it happens, one is either leading or following, and if you are following, then you are behind and therefore vulnerable to the, rightfully, self-serving interests of others.”

Kerry James Marshall, “Shall I Compare Thee…?”, pp. 71-79, in KERRY JAMES MARSHALL: Mastry, edited by Helen Molesworth, New York: Skira Rizzoli, 2016.image

 

 

Love comes easy

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  • Painting for my first grandchild in progress

It is indeed easy to love those to whom we are closely related. However more difficult is our responsibility to treat with loving kindness those with whom we differ. Peggy Noonan notes in The Wall Street Journal that social media has reduced discussion to “snotty potshots.”  James Bowman writing in The New Criterion points out that “anyone can be angry, but it takes effort to think.”

We owe each other at least an effort to think beyond potshots.

Wiliam Penn puts it in perspective. “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

 

 

 

Here, now and forever

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Laura Cummings has written a newly published book about Velazquez and the power of his painting.

She writes in The Guardian about how Las Meninas affected her, and led her to write a book of praise about Velazquez. Here are the best parts:

“The painting I saw that day seems to hold death back from the brink, even as it acknowledges our shared human fate. It shows the past in all its mortal beauty, but it also looks forward into the flowing future. Because of Velázquez, these long-lost people will always be waiting for us in the Prado; they will never go away, as long as we hold them in sight. Las Meninas is like a chamber of the mind, a place where the dead will never die.”

“To respect these portraits is to respect these people. And this depth is not an illusion. The mystery of Velázquez’s art is not just that his paintings are both dazzling and profoundly moving all at once, but that these apparent opposites coincide to the extent that one feels neither can exist without the other. The truth of life, of our brief walk in the sun, has to be set down in a flash of brilliant brush strokes that are almost disappearing. The image, the person, the life: all are here now but on the edge of dissolution. It is the definition of our human existence.”

What I like best here are these thoughts about portraits and those they portray:

“They will never go away, as long as we hold them in sight.”

“The truth of life, of our brief walk in the sun, has to be set down in a flash of brilliant brush strokes that are almost disappearing.”

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jan/03/velazquez-vanishing-man-laura-cumming-john-snare