Gallery Chronicle (April 2010)
4th Annual Young Poets Evening

Realist Revolution

Alexey Steele on stage with James Panero

James writes:

Last Friday I appeared on a panel at the Portrait Society of America's annual conference. The topic was "Realist Revolution and Critical Relevance: Is Main Stream Media Missing an Important Cultural Trend?" My co-panelists were the painters Jacob Collins and Alexey Steele, and the museum director Vern Swanson. The panel was moderated by the painter Jeremy Lipking. The quick answer to the panel's title question is certainly, yes. But has a lack of attention hurt this movement in reviving academic training and classical concerns? Not necessarily. Rather, the loss has gone the other way: the media's ignorance and silence has only ensured that the establishment art world and mainsteam culture miss out on a vital artistic movement.

We at The New Criterion have been laboring to right this wrong for several years through coverage of realism's more important artists. At the panel I revisited the forces that have kept realism from greater public attention: an aesthetic political correctness that has associated realism, at various times, with both fascism and communism, and the emergence of Pop and its market champions that have elevated bad technique over good.

Last December I discussed the market phenomena of Pop in these pages. As a service to our readers, I also want to draw together the various articles and reviews on realism that have recently appeared here.

My initial coverage began with Jacob Collins and the launch of a new classical school, in an article called "The New Old School." My colleague Roger Kimball also wrote on the subject for the Wall Street Journal and here on the Harlem Studio.

Other articles and reviews have concerned the painter Edward Minoff, realism and landscape, the Hudson River School for Landscape, Rear-gardism, and the sculptor Sabin Howard. You can also read my interview with Jacob Collins and listen to the subject on NPR's All Things Considered.

The panel was videotaped, so hopefully the complete discussion will be available for online streaming soon. Alexey Steele's experience in the politically directed art world of Soviet Russia was particularly engaging. Stay tuned.


James Panero

In response to John: Lipking assembled a panel of five people (including himself) deeply engaged in the world of realism, coming from a diversity of viewpoints (painters, museum director, journalist). A false faith in identity politics, which is what your comment calls for, will not serve a movement based on genuine talent rather than superficiality.


Very true John, but don't worry , the women and different ethnicities are not going sit on the side lines, you will see


Art Panels are often enriched when they include both males and females, and more than a single ethnic viewpoint. Realism in the twenty-first century includes many components and features practitioners of both genders.

James Panero

Wow I managed to mess up most of the links. Now fixed.

sergio lopez

your links to jacob collins and NPR are broken

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