How I see things
I believe that art is something that a person creates from the heart, with feeling. It is neither random nor accidental. Fine art, particularly visual art, developed over many centuries, from early man to the Middle Ages, with a steady, but slow progression toward the highest level of accomplishment that a human can achieve. With the onset of the Renaissance around five centuries ago, artists blossomed as never before, demonstrating talent and skills never-before seen or imagined.
When artists such as Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael began creating their magnificent works, people were amazed – not because they shocked or offended with ugly or bizarre things, but because of their amazing skills in sculpture and painting. Never before had the world seen anyone paint with such amazing realism, using light, shade, and color to depict the human form and three-dimensional objects, including landscapes and architecture. This amazing achievement continued on into the next centuries, with Baroque, Rococo, Neo-Classicism, Realism, and Romanticism.
As the 19th century waned, a new style of art appeared. It was called “Impressionism”, named for a painting by the French artist Claude Monet, Impression: Sunrise. At first, art critics were derisive of Impressionism, calling it “messy” and “unfinished”, among other things. But Impressionism would take hold and gain in acceptance and popularity, so that paintings such as Edouard Manet’s Olympia were transformed in the passing of time from a place of scorn to a national treasure. While the earliest works by the so-called “Impressionists” did display a measure of painting skills, the intent of the Impressionists was to throw off the restraints of academic training, and do whatever one wishes. This eventually led to total rebellion in the 20th century.
With the advent of nonsense art, such as Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, when he displayed a bathroom urinal as a piece of sculpture, the art world made a dramatic shift toward anything that was shocking, silly, or absurd. With the rise of artists such as Jackson Pollock, all a person had to do to be an artist was be able to splatter paint. This was the condition of the art world when I began my training. All the centuries of progress had been discarded.
I was determined to learn to be an artist in the tradition of the old masters, such as Caravaggio and Vermeer, even though I was told that Classical Realism was passé. This was going to involve a lot of trial, effort, and overcoming mistakes. I sought out professors who appreciated the works of Caravaggio and those like him. I remember a field trip to the High Museum in my first semester of college, where we saw the museum’s only Caravaggio. What an impression it made on me! If only I could paint like that! How different it was from the blank white canvases that hung in another room. Where I am today as an artist has come at a price: years and years of hard work, concentration, and overcoming frustration and failures.
If you want to pay 100 million dollars for a splatter-painting, or even a thousand dollars for a painting done by a person with the skills of a six-year-old, it’s your money, and your right. But it’s not fine art. What it is, is anti-art, a mockery of art. And once again, it’s your money and your privilege to do with it what you will. I am determined to join with the other modern artists who recognize the value and power of art that is the product of enormous skills, developed only through sacrifice and rigorous training. Such art is a beautiful thing.