This is a short follow-up to a previous blog dealing with the concepts of Classical Realism VS those of Academic Realism. I keep stressing these differences because artists and art students today are drawing and painting academic realism and calling it classical realism which it is not.
I've chosen two well known artists to make my point . We'll just look at some drawings here, and paintings at a later date.
This is a quest of mine which I teach in my classes .
CLASSICAL REALISM , as I mentioned previously , comes from the ancient Greek art of The Golden Age in the 5th century BC; this was the age of Pericles and Phidias . The concepts of proportion , form , gesture , anatomy , composition , technique and beauty originated at that time. It was rediscovered and had its rebirth during the Renaissance with Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo as well as others . These concepts continued through the 17th century in the work of Rubens , Velasquez , Van Dyke and many other great artists .
Let's look at Rubens first.
In these three drawings , we see how Rubens is thinking of the motion or action of the figure , the techniques he uses are based on KNOWLEDGE of the figure . He understands , for example , that the largest form of the body is the ribcage . He KNOWS that this form is an egg shape; he KNOWS how the light and shadow fall upon that egg shape as a single light source powerfully illuminates it .The forms of the head , the arms ,legs and so forth are depicted in the largest sense . He is NOT COPYING his subject. His subject is INSPIRING the art . Note , too , that since he KNOWS and UNDERSTANDS the FIVE PLANES OF LIGHT on each egg shape, spherical shape , cube and cylinder , he has created figures of tremendous solidity and power . Once again , he does NOT COPY nature .
Now let's look at a couple of Bougereau drawings.
Bougereau does a precise ACADEMIC rendering of the figure. Can you see the difference from a great Classical Master ( Rubens ) and the 19th century COPY approach? Which has the excitement of a life force and which is dull and boring? Bougereau was one of the very best 19th century figure painters. He understood anatomy inside out ; proportion and form. His forms are flattened out , however . He lacks the REFLECTED LIGHT plane in these drawings. He's more interested in an outline of the figure as he fills in the shading. Bougereau succumbed to the competition of photography. It appears that he relied on COPYING too much as Gerome, Alma Taddema , Frederic Leighton and many other 19th century artists.This was the death of great art in the tradition of the Classics. A glimpse of art history tells us that this boring , dull academic art gave rise to Impressionism and later to all the bizarre " art" and artists of the 20th century .