Friday, November 19, 2010


Lately I have become increasingly aware of certain ideological disputes within the art world. Whenever ideology creeps in - whether left-wing or right-wing - painting suffers. The main divide is between conservatives and progressives. In the complex world of art movements conservatives have become at times radical reactionaries, while progressive artists have sometimes re-explored the painting of the nineteenth century from a slightly ironic viewpoint.
I have an admiration for the technical skills of the nineteenth century painters, but recognize that much of the work from that period is sentimental, superficial and even kitsch, or born out of attitudes no longer tenable today, such as Imperialism and Eurocentrism. As with any period of art, much of it is just mediocre. At the same time, I think a lot of people look at a quality Victorian painting and automatically see something tainted by Imperialism, sexism or some other oppressive ideology of the past, without really pausing to consider it as paint applied to canvas. 
There are a lot of nineteenth century works on this blog, but the intention is not to take a conservative, anti-modernist stance, as the Art Renewal Centre has done. The reason there is so much nineteenth century art  posted is that I feel there is a lot that can be learnt about image-making, from that period.
There are works from the modern movement also represented here, but it's pretty obvious that the  golden age of the seascape was the 19th Century. However, there are many contemporary artists turning to the genre from a fresh angle, and I seek to include their work whenever possible.

For further reading on this topic I recommend this open letter to the ARC by the artist Mark Vallen

The academic Artist William Bouguereau, foe of the Impressionists, is one of the ARC's heroes, though they do, perhaps reluctantly, include some Impressionist work on their site.
This is a contemporary reworking of one of his marines, La Vague, by the Worth 1000 vandals :).

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