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24 March 2012

There’s Classic Painting

and then there’s classical painting

I’m mostly thrilled there is such a burgeoning interest in classic techniques of realist painting, and while I’ve written elsewhere that classical realism is an oxymoron, the recovery of traditional skills of representation is largely a good thing. However, much of what is being promoted and taught in the realist painting world seems more like rendering than painting per se. Where is the painterly technique, the evidence of brushstroke that distinguishes oil paint from other media (dare I say the camera)? I’m posting here some details of relatively recent studio paintings that show brushstroke as an aspect of both form and surface articulation; at Plein Air Italy I’ve put up some similar details from on site work. And while he holds some blame for presiding over a diminishment of the Grand Manner, Diderot has this to say about how painting was judged in his time:

"The value of creating resemblance is passing; it is that of the brush which causes us first to marvel, and then makes the work eternal."
—Denis Diderot, "Salon de 1763"
(Le merite de ressembler est passager; c'est celui du pinceau qui emerveille dans le moment et qui eternise l'ouvrage.)

Apollo & Daphne, detail

Diogenes, detail

S. Slivestro, detail

Time, Truth, and Painting, detail