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Nymphs and Satyr, by William Bouguereau (Detail)
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  • Too Many Words

    by Virgil Elliott

    What is important is not whether classicism is better or realism is better, or impressionism, neoclassicism, photorealism, etc., or what to call what, but rather what art is compelling. That is not something that aligns with categories. Art that does not move the viewer will not change anything, no matter what category one might wish to place it in or what the artist might be trying to fit in with. It is up to each artist to make art that is compelling, and those who have something worth expressing and the mastery of the means to express it are the only ones who stand a chance of making a difference. Arguments will not do it. The art must do it directly. Further, it is important that the artist understand the mind of his intended audience, and know how to imbue his works with the qualities that will touch something deep within the viewer, if he is to exert an influence on anything.

    I maintain that the most powerful kind of imagery for making the most profound impression on today's audience and the audience of the future is imagery that reads as highly realistic as possible; not photorealistic, because photographs are not the ultimate in realism, but imagery that reads convincingly as scenes viewed directly with the human viewing apparatus (two round eyes attached to a brain) would read, whether they are in fact the product of direct observation of a subject or from imagination, or any combination of sources. Whereas highly stylized images had great power when viewed by audiences of past centuries, once people have seen convincingly realistic imagery, nothing short of that will make as strong an impression on them. This is not to imply that that is all that must be done; only that no other kind of imagery will have the power to carry art beyond where it has gotten thus far. Content is of course of great importance, but what I am addressing here is the kind of imagery that will carry it across most effectively.

    Virgil Elliott