I've been thinking about what one of my painting teachers said about how representational art has been reviving. He said part of the reason why representational art is coming back to the fine art scene also has to do with the rise of the entertainment industry. A lot games and movie industries require realism and traditional skills to create a vision for it, so it has created a demand for artist who have traditional drawing and painting skills. Of course representational art has still existed in other fields like illustration, comic book art, and the classical realist movement, preserving some of the craft of drawing and painting since the old masters, but I don't think it created as much as an impact as the entertainment boom. It's too much of a coincidence that the rise of classical ateliers, academies and art schools started along with the rise of the entertainment industry. I mean it would make sense if games and movies want to improve their graphics with realism as a demand, and schools that teach artist with traditional skills to supply them.
I've also wondered why no art historian would ever mention the connections between the influences of the old masters on illustration and concept art. I know in illustration and concept art we owe a lot of our knowledge to the old masters from learning how to draw to composing. In a lot of art history books, the history of fine art has been the lineage of the old masters to the abstract conceptual artists of the present. Hardly any art historian would ever mention how commercial artists still preserve representational drawing and painting.
Great artists and architects, eg. Leonardo, Bernini and Palladio, had also had a sideline in set design for plays and pageants, so there was always a strong link between the visual arts and popular entertainment. The demise of grand history/mythology/religious painting in art (gladiators and knights, saints and prophets, and heroes and heroines) rather coincides with the rise of Hollywood, where these scenes became stapel. The movie business is in many sense a truer inheritor of the great western artistic tradition than the modern art scene. Many art historians are biased and conditioned in favour of 'modernism', so they are blind to the obvious.
Last edited by dashinvaine; September 22nd, 2009 at 09:26 AM.
There is also a pendulum effect, how do you distinguish yourself from dada´sm, cubism, abstracts and paint splashing? By doing stuff others can't or won't do: figurative images. The good side is, it's easily accessible to the public (unlike, say, performance art or steak dresses.) Just like dada´sm. cubism and paint splashing was a way to distinguish oneself when figurative work was all the rage!
I wonder if there would be any art historian who would actually write a book about the influences of the old masters on illustration and concept art?
I don't think realism ever went away, only that it was not in vogue in fine art. As a consequence it was harder for artists who had fine art aspirations to find schools that taught it.
I think possibly more than the entertainment industry, maybe it was the birth of the internet making it easier for people to rediscover art that focused on more realism, and a growing community that is less influenced by fine art institutions, and more on what actually speaks to them.
Maybe the entertainment industry made it profitable again for art schools to teach realism, but I think it is the internet giving people choices again that has reawakened the desire for traditional realism.