Revolution!

In my old essay “The Reluctant Death of Modernism” I was extremely critical of modernist art and the twentieth century rejection of technical ability that truncated the careers of many excellent painters, particularly our cultural failure to offer them training in the Universities and colleges that had become so enamoured of the new humanist ideas of deconstruction and parody. Yesterday I was directed to a website promoting a rejection of modernism, which I like for it’s revolutionary zeal, but it makes the same error I did in my essay (and the same error the modernists made) by throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Just as the art of the nineteenth century wasn’t all bad, not all modernism was bad, in fact some of it was actually really fantastic, like the beautiful work of Paul Klee, or the sublime Klimt. Having said that, the atelier school promoted by Aristides and her colleagues at Art Renewal is really wonderful. I visited her atelier in Seattle a few months ago and was very impressed with the quality of work generated the students.

As a painting teacher I want to contribute to this movement as much as possible, by encouraging our University to adopt atelier techniques and by giving faculty a studio to use as they choose, so they can exemplify their work to the students. In a small school we can do this very well. We can’t compete with the big art schools and their efforts to promote post-post-modernism, nor can they offer the small class sizes that the atelier exemplified, so we have an opportunity to base our teaching efforts in drawing and painting upon the atelier model, offering our students a haven where they can learn technical expertise. 

About pearce

Michael Pearce is an artist, writer, and professor of art. He is the author of "Art in the Age of Emergence."
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