Classical Art, What is it ?

Etruscan-VaseI have often overheard or been told directly at one of the regular paintings exhibitions and events staged by Kings Galleries here in the USA, that “Classical art is coming back”

My answer has always been the same “when did it ever go away” However, in order to understand my flippancy we first have to define what we mean by “Classical Art” only by doing and understanding that will we see that in fact Classical Art never went away, it merely napped in the corner whilst the new wave expelled its energy screaming look at me!

So what is Classical Art?

Classical Art adheres to artistic principles and rules laid down by centuries of Master Artist Painters and Sculptors all with artistic lineage leading all the way back to the noble Greeks and Romans and their interpretation and formal representation of the human form and the environment in which it exists.

Craft is required to create it, the training required today to be a realist painter is identical to the training for a painter of the classicism style, the romanticism style or the baroque style. This is so and will never change regardless of the new techniques and tools thrown up by modern technological innervation’s.

Craft is the foundation to Classical Art and Classical art is that which celebrates the human condition and touches us at a level we can easily recognize and resonates the human emotions appealing directly to what we euphemistically call the “soul” It presents beauty as mysterious without being obscure therefore it is accessible to everyone not just the few. Admittedly it is far more enjoyable with a little explanation and mild education but never the less it does not suffer from obscurity and random interpretation. Its either beautiful to you or it is not, it either touches you or it does not, either way no one can say that it is not well crafted, for craft is its foundation, without craft it is not classical art.

However it must also be remembered that Classical Art is not art that is wholly dependent on Greek and Roman imagery or merely on reviving the styles of the past, Classical Art. It is not just pictures of idealized people in togas and flowing drapery, a painting’s figure can just as easily be dressed in modern athletic shoes and boxers trunks, or a tennis skirt, or much less, as in fantastic golden robes worn by sylph like maidens cavorting in a woodland landscape. Paintings subjects may have idealized features, or they may me be uniquely homely or even what is referred to as “sentimental “and radiating sublime inner qualities all of this can be done within the confines  and classification of  Classical Art . However Classical Art is based on the aesthetic and philosophical principles established by the Greco-roman civilization and that is also is the wellspring of our modern culture.  All of the Art, literature and Music of today are all in some way dependent on, extrapolations of, systems devised and evolved by this culture so many hundreds of years ago, it is by way of tribute and recognition of this fact that the craft of Classical Art and painting chooses to celebrate its lineage.

The Author, John Douglas is head of artist’s commissions for Kings Galleries.