Monday, September 12, 2011

American Realism in XX century -Second Part

Second half of the XX century in American art saw almost universal triumph of modern art, which very quickly has become the obligatory academism for all students and practitioners. Every art institution, every grant, award and every benison of recognition went from there on to modern artists. To be an artist and not employ some kind of modern gimmicks was in all instances deadly as carrier-building move. It was, and still is a self-erasure from the map of significant contributions to national culture.
In that unforgiving monism of what art has to be there were some obstinate exceptions. Edward Hopper painted America, particularly urban America like no one before him. Sure, there were “ash-can” painters depicting urban scenes but they hardly were distinct from their European counter-parts. What Hopper showed in his paintings was utterly, uniquely American. Even his technique, while roughly “post-impressionistic” is very much his own: avoiding easy stylistic deformations, exaggerated slopping of thick impastos or cubist-like tendencies. There are two, I believe, sources of artistic delight his marvelous art brings: uniquely American scenes and “hopperesque mood” which is a peculiar brand of melancholy.

Another and no less gigantic artist was Andrew Wyeth. His visions of rural America are unlike those endless landscapes of bucolic serenity of American luminists or impressionists .His eye is seeing farmed land and rural life with extreme attentiveness and solemnity that imparts to each scene almost a religious gravity, elevating the quotidian to almost a holy rite. One has to compare his work to other realists to see how very selective, judicious are the choices of elements shown. Andrew Wyeth’ art was the most opposite creation to modern art. He took strictly nothing from the pile of available methods of the moderns. He painted as if the omnipresent primitivisation of the contemporary art was in no way obliging. Significantly, he also was building his world without any obvious references to the past. Wyeth was truly sui generis. It is a precious gift his genius left us to cherish.

There are three excellent figurative painters worth including who worked in the second part of XX century in America: Ivan  Albright, Paul Cadmus and George Tooker.

                                                                            Ivan Albricht

                                                                         Paul Cadmus

                                                              George Tooker

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