Ivan Nikolaevick Kramskoy, "Peasant Holding a Bridle" 1883
I participated in a plein air "Paint the Town" Event last week in Cranford, NY. A wonderful amazing talented group of artist from across the US ascended on this small commuter town in central, New Jersey to paint in the open air, exhibit and sell their works. The event was sponsored by the Jersey Central Art Studios and all about the success of this years event can be found on their website.
What remained in my mind and today and what seems a lingering unanswered question is a statement made, somewhat sarcastically and purposefully by an amazing painter from Maryland named Tim Bell. Tim's work is full of color and light, an artist with the courage and grit to paint with a fresh and bold approach.
OK,... here's the statement. "I hate Realism". Please don't misconstrue what Tim was saying. He had a point in mind which triggered a lengthy discussion.
What is the state of contemporary representational painting and which artists and works seem to be the heralded as the "Realism" of our times? Lets just stop for a second and define "Realism" back in my early days at Pratt Inst. I minored in art history and I'm not a scholar by any stretch of my imagination, but I thought "Realism" was a reaction by many artists during the later part of the 1800's to break from the idealized form and standards established by the French Academy and paint real life scenes of everyday folk, rich or poor, peasant or ruling class. It was an honest attempt, in my opinion to express works that truly documented the times in which they lived. Some work was quite preachy and dogmatic but some works honestly expressed something quite profound and meaningful beyond just beautiful Paintings. The works of Sargent's and Sorolla obviously come to mind among many others so I thought I would, over the next few post example some of my favorite "Realist Painters" from Russia!
Who in my opinion, took all the skills and knowledge of traditional and impressionist paintings available and created works of real artistic soul expressing the "Beauty & Truth" of their times.