War is Over If You Want It

Roberta Smith, the New York Times respected senior art writer, has a great piece in today’s Times. She says essentially what we and many others in the art world have been saying for years. Namely, that the distinction between abstract and representational work is very “20th century”. It was necessary for the modernists and their followers to storm the gates of conventional representation in order to shock viewers into understanding that there are different (and equally valid) ways of representing the world and experience. But it is also true that former models of representation remain valid.

Smith writes about a new breed of painters who are rediscovering representation and combining it with aspects of abstraction. This mash-up is as welcome as it was inevitable. Enough already with picking sides and defending a particular “ism” as if it were holy writ. Enough with feeling guilty when we are drawn to art that isn’t fashionable or something the “art mob” hasn’t ordained. Good work is good work is good work.

DNG has always shown a variety of artists who work in a variety of styles, believing that it is more about the artist’s talent and sincerity than whatever happens to be hot this year in Soho. Good on you, Ms. Smith for saying something that should have been said long ago. Let the truce begin. War is over if you want it.

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7 responses to “War is Over If You Want It

  1. Many of us who are representational painters are engaged in this discussion at this very moment. This, for many of us, is a truth fast becoming reality. While this article touches on our current thinking process, it does not discuss the next step some of us are reaching for, that speaks to the fact of what is risked if ‘war’ does not indeed cease. Great post!!

  2. deloneynewkirkgalleries

    Thanks for the comment. The “war” is obviously waged in viewer’s heads. If Ms. Smith’s opinion makes it into the public consciousness and viewers “allow” themselves to enjoy any work that appeals to them that will be a major achievement. I’m afraid however that as long as there are entrenched interest groups on either side that refuse to admit the validity of the other side’s position the wars will continue. Kinda sounds like politics doesn’t it?

  3. Indeed. Politics, and the very essence of how profiteers thrive. Several of us representational painters are engaged in this very discussion at this moment, a few essays soon to be published, because it is in our opinion a critical idea for the progress of visual art itself. At the risk of ridicule, I’ll throw out it is possibly a “new” viewpoint, about how to consider, or discuss, visual art. The special interests groups in the realist world are ever strong and growing. As representational painting is burgeoning again, so are loud voices bringing out old arguments against 20th century art, almost a call to return to the 19th century again. Have we learned nothing?

  4. Also, I believe there is an…idea….emerging, that is so clear, for many artists in 2010, that if enough are exposed to it, from the most avant garde group, to the most prestigious Florence atelier, that it makes enough sense to move the entire discussion forward. If enough artists and scholars take this step forward, the true special interest groups will be standing there singularly, and clearly seen for what they are. Exciting times for certain!

  5. This is huge.

    Art has always been about expression, not revolution, to my humble heart. The fact that sides are taken and fists are raised for the love of money (lets face it) is counterintuitive to me. I personally don’t care about critics, and never understood the so-called reliance upon them. The new world of Art is ahead, and it is a merging of all that ever was with the open exploration of what’s happening in the moment, unique to each maker.

  6. Walter Woodpecker

    I am reminded that Revolutions are grave matters only be to undertaken when there is no other way, carried-out by leaders without selfish interests for the purpose of gladdening the people…A better notion would be “molting”, as in a social transformation. Art, when well done, masters these chaotic changes and so reflects the World that we may find our purpose and pleasure in it. So much of the stirring is coming from anxious artists who, despite great craftsmanship, cannot resound the essential meaning of these times.

  7. Pingback: We’ve stepped in it now « Art Blog From Santa Fe

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