The classic realism refers to an artistic movement of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century in which drawing and painting give great value to skill and beauty, combining elements of neoclassicism and realism of the nineteenth century.

Origins

Jean-Léon Gérôme. Pollice Verso (1872). Classic realism traces its lineage from Gérôme.

The term “classical realism” first appeared as a description of the literary style, as in an 1882 critique of Milton’s poetry. [1] Its use related to the visual arts dates back to at least 1905 in a reference to the paintings of Masaccio. [2] It originated as the title of a contemporary but traditional artistic movement with Richard Lack (1928-2009), who was a student of the Boston artist RH Ives Gammell (1893-1981) in the early fifties. Ives Gammell had studied with William McGregor Paxton (1869-1941) and Paxton had studied with the nineteenth-century French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904). In 1967, Lack established Atelier Lack, a study-school of fine arts inspired by nineteenth-century workshops in Paris and the teaching of the Boston Impressionists. In 1980 he had trained an important group of young painters. In 1982, they organized an itinerant exhibition of their work and that of other artists within the artistic tradition represented by Gammell, Lack and their students. The fault was asked by Vern Swanson, director of the Springville Art Museum, Springville, Utah, (the place of origin of the exhibition), to coin a term that differentiates the realism of the heirs of the Boston tradition from that of other artists representative Although he was reluctant to label this work, Lack chose the expression “Classical realism”. It was used for the first time in the title of that exhibition: Classic realism: The other twentieth century. The term, “Classical Realism,” was originally intended to describe a work that combined the fine drawing and design of the European academic tradition as exemplified by Gérôme with the observed color values ​​of the Boston American tradition as exemplified by Paxton.

In 1985, Atelier Lack began publishing the Classical Classic Realism, with articles written by Richard Lack and his students to educate and inform the public about traditional representative painting. 

In 1988, Lack and several associates founded The American Society of Classical Realism, a society organized to preserve and promote representative art. The ASCR functioned until 2005 and published the influential magazine Classical Realism Journal and Classical Realism Newsletter.

On the other hand, another important contributor to the rebirth of traditional knowledge of drawing and painting is the painter and art instructor Ted Seth Jacobs (born 1927), who taught students at the Art Students League and the New York Academy of Art. in the city of New York. . 

[3] His lineage is rooted in the Académie Julian, the Golden Age of Enlightenment in New York and the School of Paris. In 1987, Ted Seth Jacobs created his own art school, L’Ecole Albert Defois in Les Cerqueux sous Passavant, France (49). Many of Jacobs’ students, such as Anthony Ryder and Jacob Collins, became influential teachers and acquired their own followers.

Style and philosophy

Classic realism is characterized by the love of the visible world and the great traditions of Western art, including classicism, realism and impressionism. The aesthetics of the movement is classical, since it exhibits a preference for order, beauty, harmony and integrity; It is realistic because its main theme comes from the representation of nature based on the observation of the artist. [5] Artists of this genre strive to draw and paint from direct observation of nature, and avoid the use of photography or other mechanical aids. In this sense, classical realism differs from the artistic movements of photorealism and hyperrealism. Stylistically, classical realists employ methods used by both impressionist and academic artists.

The classical realist painters have tried to restore the training curricula that develop a sensitive and artistic eye and methods of representation of nature that precede modern art. They seek to create personal, expressive, beautiful and skillful paintings. His theme includes all the traditional categories within western art: figurative, landscape, portraits, interior and exterior genre and still life paintings.

A central idea of ​​Classical Realism is the belief that the movements of Modern Art of the 20th century opposed the principles and production of traditional art and caused a general loss of the skills and methods necessary to produce it. Modernism was antagonistic to art, as conceived by 

the Greeks, rose in the Renaissance and continued in the academies of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. [6] The artists of Classic Realism try to revive the idea of ​​artistic production as it was traditionally understood: the mastery of an art to make objects that gratify and ennoble those who see them. [7] This craftsmanship is applied to drawing, painting or sculpting contemporary themes that the artist observes in the modern world.

Like nineteenth-century academic models, from which it is inspired, the movement has generated criticism for the importance given to technical performance, a tendency towards artificial and idealized representations of the figure, and a rhetorical exaggeration when applied to the epic narrative. [6] Maureen Mullarkey of the New York Sun referred to the school as “a contemporary style with a retro feel, like the Chrysler’s PT Cruiser”

Schools

The Classical Realist movement is currently supported through art schools based on the Atelier Method. Many academies and current workshops follow the drawing course of Charles Bargue. Richard Lack is generally considered to be the founder of the contemporary atelier movement. His school, Atelier Lack, was founded in 1969 and became a model for similar schools. [9] These modern workshops are founded with the aim of revitalizing artistic education by reintroducing a rigorous training in traditional drawing and painting techniques, using teaching methodologies that were used in the École des Beaux-Arts. These schools transmit a method of instruction that combines formal academic art. Training with the influence of the French impressionists.

Under the study model, art students study in the study of an established teacher to learn to draw and paint with realistic precision and an emphasis on convincing form. The basis of these programs is based on an intensive study of the human figure, representations of plaster molds of classical sculpture and the emulation of their instructors. The goal is to make students adept at observation, theory and crafts while absorbing the classic ideals of beauty.