Being a Painter of One's Own Time""

Home / Education / ARChives / Foundational Discussions

Being a Painter of One's Own Time""

From Fred Ross

Published before 2005


John Pacer wrote:
One of the prevailing mantras I hear on Good Art is that "modernists" (whatever that means) despise realism in art. This is not the case and hasn't been since the 1950's and 1960's. There are realist (or at least representational painters, which is more important) painters such as Lucian Freud, Marilyn Minter, John Currin, Ann Gale, Odd Nerdrum, Jenny Saville, etc. that are acknowledged by the "New York Scene" (which is really who you're talking about. The reason they say it's not relevant is because it has nothing to do with contemporary life. No one really lives like that anymore. You have to be a painter of your time, either literally or metaphorically (like Odd Nerdrum) in order to be recognized.
John,

Why do you have to be a painter of your time?

The greatest artists speak to all people of all times.

They capture aspects of what it means to be human which are true today or as I like to describe it, …” in the ancient distant future”.

That is not to say that there’s anything wrong with painting your times. On the contrary, some of the finest universal works find examples of universal subjects in their own time. But how can you dismiss someone’s work because they chose to place their subjects in ancient Rome or in an Arthurian legend?

Some might find interdictions of that sort coming from the same mouths that speak about the value of freedom of expression as more than a little hypocritical.

It is also no contradiction to believe in people’s rights to make any objects they so want and believe those people have the right to claim they’re works are fine art, and yet at the same time express a negative opinion about the quality and value of such works.

And in fact that’s what many of us are doing when we are critical of most modern art.

But I would fight tooth and nail against any kind of laws that would prevent those people from producing or marketing their Modernist works.

Simultaneously I would try to educate people about the Modernist scams that abound throughout the art world, and try to elevate their understanding as to why those objects fail to achieve the poetry, beauty and grace with which the finest works of Realism are imbued.

Fred Ross