A new way to think about Modernist criticism

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A new way to think about Modernist criticism

From Fred Ross

Published before 2005


I just thought of a new way to challenge some of the modernist dogma, a new way to "spin" some of the same ideas we've been talking about for the last 3 to 4 years here ... so I want to get it down while it's fresh in my head.

Modernist critics will celebrate Michelangelo, Leonardo, Dürer, Raphael, Botticelli, Caravaggio, etc., because they say they were the first to develop new methods and techniques. Then they put down all the 19th century academic realists as well as all 20th century and living realists on the basis that they're unoriginal and just using methods and techniques invented long ago by others.

Well then, why was it brilliant of the old masters to have invented those methods and techniques if they're not worth doing? If it's of no value to make a realistic, story-telling work of art today because those things have no value, then why celebrate the people who originated them?

In fact, why is it worthwhile to be the first to do anything, if it immediately becomes valueless for anybody else to do it? And of course no methods can be developed into anything worthwhile unless generations of thought, knowledge and creativity keep building it into a greater and greater art form.

Founder and Chairman of the Art Renewal Center, Ross is the leading authority on William Bouguereau and co author of the recently published Catalogue Raisonné William Bouguereau: His Life and Works.