Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's nothing new

If you think that the common art critic malaise of denigrating realism as a viable genre of contemporary painting is something new then...(via the NY Sun):

"It's a New York story of courage and defeat followed by 50-year commitment to classical figurative painting. Next week, at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., a New York group of painters who bucked the tide of fashion will celebrate a painterly triumph.

In May 1961, some brash young figurative painters threw down the gauntlet to the modern art establishment. In an exhibition at the National Arts Club called "A Realist View," a group including Aaron Shikler, Daniel Schwartz, Harvey Dinnerstein, Burt Silverman, and David Levine declared their opposition to the trend toward abstraction in modern art. The abandonment of tradition in favor of personal style and individual expression had led to the impoverishment of the artist's imagination, Mr. Silverman declared in a "Statement by the Artists." "In our paintings we have not succumbed to the frantic search for something ‘new,'" he continued. "We are not concerned with being ‘of our times'…. Our concern is with the world around us."

Their protest against the apotheosis of Abstract Expressionism did not go unheeded; they were critically trounced. "[I]t's the quietest, oldest show you ever saw," the New York Herald Tribune's critic, Emily Genauer, wrote. "Nowhere are there fire, urgency, even innocence, the conviction that there are new things and new ideas in the world …. What showed in the paintings — apart from craft — was chiefly doctrinaire attitude."
Five gets you ten that this coming DC show will still get trashed in the printed media press and a few blogs, as there are very few brave souls out there willing to stray too far from the comfort of the art critic wolf pack.

If the WaPo's Blake Gopnik reviews the show, expect the usual eloquent but tired slogans about painting being dead, and realism continuing to try to exist even though nothing new has surfaced since the Renaissance, blah, blah, blah. He will also say something specifically aimed at the jugular of the NPG itself.

If my good friend Jeffry Cudlin reviews it for the WCP, I suspect that he will manage to find an Achilles heel somewhere in the show, explained away in Jeffry's usual and elegant theory-driven review pen.

The exhibition will be at the NPG March 30 to October 8, 2007.

Visual Art Website Opened for U.S. Service Families

As a veteran, I am psyched by the announcement that the National Arts Program Foundation, Malvern, PA, announced today that in support of the men and women of the armed services, it will post for free, pictures of original drawings, watercolors, oil and acrylic paintings, sculpture, photography and crafts of all active and retired military service members and DoD employees and their families.

Details here.