Painting above by Pablo Picasso
By Fred Ross
The Art Renewal Center
There is a second very useful expression identified that aids us in understanding what has occurred and how Modernism, after gaining ascendance, has been able to maintain its position. That term is called "Art-speak." Art-speak is a contrived form of language, which uses self-consciously complex and convoluted combinations of words to impress, mesmerize and silence opposition. "Art-speak" is generally used by people in positions of power and authority and in combination with "prestige suggestion" is ultimately employed to silence contrary instincts and ideas to prevent people from identifying honestly what has been paraded before them.
This is accomplished by brainwashing society through authority and confounding, with "art-speak," the evidence of our senses about objects and ideas that otherwise any sane person would question. The "authority" of high positions, and the "authority" of books and periodicals, and the "authority" of certificates of accreditation attached to the names of the chief proponents of modernism, which have all worked in combination to impress and humble those whose common sense would otherwise rise up in opposition. Without a doubt, they would clearly see this art for what it is, evident nonsense, if it's supposed value had not emanated from the pretentious mouths and pens of those with such a preponderance of "authority" to back them up. Many students and even teachers have come forward to report how traditional realism has been virtually or actually banned from their art departments. They want to share their sufferings at the hands of Modernist educators and ask what they can do.
Banning of ideas and not permitting free and open debate has been a problem throughout history. Most often relating to religion or politics, it rears up in other fields as well. For example, global warming is often taught as settled science with the suggestion that only fools would listen to arguments questioning it despite mountains of conflicting evidence. John Stuart Mill's remarks on speech suppression are as alive and accurate today as they were two hundred years ago:
"Where there is a tacit convention that principles are not to be disputed; where the discussion of the greatest questions, which can occupy humanity, is considered to be closed, we cannot hope to find that generally high scale of mental activity, which has made some periods of history so remarkable."
"However unwillingly a person who has a strong opinion may admit the possibility that his opinion may be false, he ought to be moved by the consideration that however true it may be, if it is not fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth."
John Stuart Mill's essay "On Liberty" from Great Political Thinkers by William Bernstein, p.569
Without a dynamic living network of experts teaching technical knowledge in drawing and painting, it will never be possible for college and university art departments to have students who are able to enrich the debate and the academic environment for all students by producing works of art that are capable of expressing complex, vital and spirited ideas. To forbid these skills to be taught on campus in any real depth is as ridiculous as having a music department that refuses to teach the circle of fifths or only teaches three or four notes from which they insist all music must be composed. It is as absurd as having an English department in which all words that had recognizable meanings were forbidden and only writing without words or sentence structure would be admissible.
If there was nothing to be ashamed in their teaching methods and in their results, they would welcome the chance to confront the ideas that they should be well equipped to refute. They have a solemn duty to maintain the integrity of thought made possible by what has been handed down to them by those artists, writers, and thinkers before us, who established a vast, complex and rich system of training with which to teach and pass on a wealth of knowledge. Deliberately preventing access to this information is crippling to the goals of education and a severe obstruction to ensuring a society based on freedom of thought without which progress is impossible. Where is it more important to vouchsafe these principles than at our nation's colleges and universities who are training the next generation of leaders? Even if they don't agree, they have a duty to expose their students to responsible opposing views in all fields and disciplines.
While it is beyond the scope of this chapter to fully delineate the evidence and arguments on both sides of the Modernism vs. Realism schism in fine arts and aesthetics, for the purpose at hand, we are focusing on the realist position which in recent decades has had very few proponents, ceding nearly a century to an ascendant modernist leviathan. And that century has seen the greatest strides forward in every other field of human endeavor. If the proponents of realism are as correct as it seems, the art world is woefully behind our times and will need to do a lot of catching up.
Art Highlights is a blog about what's going on with me and my photography, what's going on in the art world, and what's going on in the world in general.