In 1968 Henry Hope Reed created Classical America, which is now called the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art. At that time, he had in mind the many ways our nation exhibited a classical heritage in art, architecture, political philosophy, and general cultural values. In the early years the organization did focus on architecture almost exclusively but today the organization has come to embrace the classical tradition more broadly. They have grown from a small New York core with a budding branch in Philadelphia, to a national organization with 15 chapters around the country and can now say that the New American Renaissance is underway.
The Philadelphia chapter has designed a program of recognition for individuals and organizations of various sorts who embody Henry’s vision of renewal and growth in the classical tradition of America called “The Golden Reed,” recalling Henry’s seminal book The Golden City.
This year the award went to Lorraine Reisenbach, Director of Artists House Gallery for her successful, commendable work over the years “to introduce, nurture, and mentor outstanding emerging artists in the best of Western tradition.” This amazing work from the current exhibition Young Visions.
Still Life by Evan Schukis
In the history of American architecture and the arts, the American Renaissance was the period from 1876–1917 which was characterized by renewed national self-confidence and a feeling that the United States was the heir to Greek democracy, Roman law, and Renaissance humanism. It expressed its self-confidence in new technologies, such as the wire cables of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It found its cultural outlets in both Prairie School houses and in Beaux-Arts architecture and sculpture, in the “City Beautiful” movement, and “also the creation of the American empire.” Politically and economically, this era coincides with the Gilded Age.
The classical architecture of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893, was a demonstration that impressed Henry Adams, who wrote that people “would some day talk about Hunt and Richardson, La Farge and Saint-Gaudens, Burnham and McKim and Stanford White when their politicians and millionaires were quite forgotten.”
In the dome of the reading room at the Library of Congress, Edwin Blashfield’s murals were on the given theme, The Progress of Civilization.
Here is a link to a post I did after visiting the magnificent Library of Congress.
Today’s Classical Realism is characterized by love for the visible world and the great traditions of Western art, including Classicism, Realism and Impressionism. The movement’s aesthetic is Classical in that it exhibits a preference for order, beauty, harmony and completeness; it is Realist because its primary subject matter comes from the representation of nature based on the artist’s observation. Artists in this genre strive to draw and paint from the direct observation of nature, and eschew the use of photography or other mechanical aids. In this regard, Classical Realism differs from the art movements of Photorealism and Hyperrealism. Stylistically, classical realists employ methods used by both Impressionist and Academic artists.
Classical Realist painters have attempted to restore curricula of training that develop a sensitive, artistic eye and methods of representing nature that pre-date Modern Art. They seek to create paintings that are personal, expressive, beautiful, and skillful. Their subject matter includes all of the traditional categories within Western Art: figurative, landscape, portraiture, indoor and outdoor genre and still life paintings.
A central idea of Classical Realism is the belief that the Modern Art movements of the 20th century opposed the tenets and production of traditional art and caused a general loss of the skills and methods needed to produce it. Modernism was antagonistic to art as it was conceived by the Greeks, resurrected in the Renaissance, and carried on by the academies of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Classical Realist artists attempt to revive the idea of art production as it was traditionally understood: mastery of a craft in order to make objects that gratify and ennoble those who see them. This craftsmanship is then applied to drawing, painting or sculpting contemporary subjects which the artist observes in the modern world.
Gandy Gallery of Contemporary Classical Realists
Paul S. Brown, Classical Realist
Jacob Collins (born 1964) is an American realist painter working in New York, NY. He is a leading figure of the contemporary classical art revival.
Interesting article The Contemporary Realist Movement.
“….contemporary realists felt mankind was best served by depicting through art, the qualities in life that unite us as people, rather than the debasement of civilization.
Nothing says more about a culture than the art it idolizes. Art represents what a culture values, what its people think about, and essentially what they deem worth remembering. Art is the representation of a people, encapsulating their essence on every level.”
Max Ginsburg, Foreclosure
Promise of Renewal
“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
Henry Ward Beecher, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, 1887
US abolitionist & clergyman (1813 – 1887)
The Internet has become the most important tool for the realist movement. It allowed the movement to gain serious traction about 10 years ago by linking like-minded people together, enabling them to find each other and promote their thoughts to others.
Through groups such as good GoodArt, the Art Renewal Center (A.R.C.) which was founded as a center for Realism. It became the largest online museum and the only one at that time dedicated to traditional art.
ARC searched out the remaining few atelier schools that still used the training methods of the old masters. Finding only 14 in existence at that time, with less than 200 students, ARC advertised them to the public.
Since that time, the atelier schools have grown dramatically, with more and more created every year. On the Art Renewal website, 72 atelier schools and workshops are now listed, with many times the number of students, and more are out there that are not listed.
Magazines now exist that are dedicated to Realism, such as Fine Art Connoisseur, Plein Air, Artist Advocate, American Arts Quarterly, Art of the West, and others.
Head instructor of the Ani Art Academy Waichulis, Anthony Waichulis, says: “Over the past few years, I have found that applications and program inquiries have increased tenfold. It seems that this ever-growing resurgence in Realism is encouraging new aspiring artists to enthusiastically pursue fundamental skill building on a scale I have not seen before.
“This is truly a wonderful thing, as I believe that effective education is one of the most powerful tools we have to shape the future,” he said.
These groups are all united, figuratively if not literally, in their goal to bring realist painting, drawing, and sculpture back to the forefront of contemporary art
The atelier schools are the foundation of the movement. They are the source of the proper training that is denied in most university and college art curriculums.
James Oliver wrote: “I am an artist who has been disenchanted with the art world to such a degree that I have pursued a science education instead. I think this site is the first real indication that the madness is beginning to clear as humankind rediscovers the beautiful.”
“As an artist and teacher, I believe that the future will only be possible if we infuse the arts back where they always belonged, at the heart of human education,” Jean Corbeil wrote.”
This years Kips Bay Show House is in the Villard Mansion at 457 Madison Avenue. When I visited in 1987 it was The Helmsley Palace Hotel. A lot has changed since then.
In 1882, Henry Villard, a well-known railroad financier, hired McKim, Mead, and White to create six private brownstone townhouses surrounding a courtyard on Madison Avenue. The prominent architectural firm created the houses in the neo-Italian Renaissance tradition, after the Palazzo della Cancellaria in Rome.
In the spring of 1974, the developer Harry Helmsley proposed a 55-story hotel for the site of the Villard Houses called The Helmsley Palace Hotel. To construct his hotel tower, Helmsley hired Emery Roth & Sons, who created its design of dark bronze reflective glass and anodized aluminum to blend with the Villard Houses and Manhattan’s surrounding skyline. The Helmsley Palace Hotel opened in 1981 and was operated by Helmsley until 1992, when the hotel came under the management of a private New York limited partnership, changing its name to The New York Palace.
During Helmsley’s ownership his wife, Leona Helmsley, maintained a strict and intolerant management style which involved her firing staff members for trivial mistakes, an act which gave her the nickname, “Queen of Mean.” The hotel reverted to its bond holders from Leona Helmsley and was ultimately purchased by The Sultan of Brunei with the concurrence of the US Bankruptcy Court. The Sultan of Brunei, through its development company, Amedeo Limited, hired Lee Jablin of Harman Jablin Architects for the complete renovation of the hotel and Villard Houses.
Northwood Investors bought the hotel from the Sultan of Brunei in 2011.
The Kips Bay Show House is in the townhouse on the left of the courtyard. I was disappointed with the townhouse and the interior decoration with the exception of a few rooms. No photography was permitted, but I had seen two of the rooms in Habitually Chic, which I loved. They were the best rooms.
Love this paneled sitting room by Carrier and Company with custom gilt wallpaper. It is quite a small room, but the furnishings and design gave it a spacious while intimate feeling.
Alexa Hampton’s Sitting Room also had fabulous panels and custom printed wallcovering from Duggal. The large tile pattern is wonderful. The smaller version below the chair rail not so much. Duggal is a wonderful source for digitized media. Trend alert – Utilize digital images for unique patterns, large format photography and lenticular holographic imagery.
The kitchen done by Matthew Quinn was excellent. The Dacor refrigerator doors in stainless and brass were amazing. The Helix Silestone countertops in a suede finish were perfect with the stainless and gray color palette. The designer said the view of St. Patricks through the kitchen window was his inspiration for the lights (incense burners) and window treatment (organ pipes).
I had really chosen to see this years Kips Bay Show House because of the location. I fell in love with the Gold Tea Room in the Helmsley, the grand lobby with beautiful marble and all the architectural features. The show house rooms really did not have a backdrop of grand features I expected to see. Some designers even chose to cover some grand features. Over the years, the changes that have been made to the Villard in my view are not all improvements.
Architectural features and columns were eliminated. Marble panels were painted. The lighting updated. Getting rid of the yellow gold on the walls was a good idea. New floors look great. The marble panels could have remained since they repeated the stone for the focal point fireplace. Not all bad but……
The New York Palace Hotel Michel Richard Bistro. Amazing room with fabulous stone columns, pilasters, niches and crown.
Today the restaurant has this huge wine display.
The Tea Room which I looked forward to seeing again is now a restaurant with huge images propped against the walls covering really beautiful artistry. The ceiling is still beautiful.
The common areas are still original. Check out the marble balustrades. There are several different designs.
More to follow. Next we visited the Mansion in May Show House, The Blairsden Mansion, in Peapack, New Jersey. The seventh largest home in the US. An impressive Beaux Arts style home.
Reminder to submit your ugly grille image to Beaux-Artes’ Second Annual Ugliest Grille Contest. All you have to do is send a picture of the grille you would like to replace with one of Beaux-Artes decorative grilles, to [email protected] Deadline for submissions is May 30th, 2014. The winners will be announced June 4th, 2014. Visit here for contest details.