Monday, November 17, 2008
A Wonderful Exhibition
On Saturday my husband and I went to the Atlanta Art Gallery to view their current exhibition, Jacob Collins and the Water Street Atelier. The show contains the works of many artists, all of whom are or have been students of the famed Brooklyn Water Street Atelier founded by Jacob Collins in 1994, when he was thirty years old. Frustrated with the lack of traditional academic training in the art schools at that time, Jacob founded this school in his studio, hoping to attract like-minded artists/students, those interested in preserving, or at that time, perhaps more appropriately, resurrecting the teaching methods of the Masters and the Academies found in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. With good draftsmanship the foundation for good painting, students would work first in pencil or charcoal only, replicating sculptural casts. Next they would draw the human form from life and only when they had mastered this could they begin to paint.
Thus began a new generation of artists in the United States, artists whose high degree of excellence could not be ignored by the modernist art establishment. Classical Realism slowly crept back into the galleries and museums, and while it is still not held in the highest regard in all circles, it has certainly gained a very strong foothold in the art world of the 21st century. Today there are ateliers and more formal academic schools throughout the country, offering students the kind of educational foundation that can lead them to greatness.
It has been my great honor to have met and spoken with Jacob Collins, to have attended a round table discussion with him, and to hear him speak and present an incredible slide show of his work. I have also had the privilege of interviewing and writing articles about two of the artists in this show, Juliette Aristedes and Patricia Watwood. Juliette runs a four year atelier at the Gage Academy in Seattle and has recently published two wonderful books, both based on the classical academic tradition, one on drawing and one on painting. (Look them up in my Art Matters Amazon Bookstore in the right column of this blog.)
I strongly recommend that you visit the Atlanta Art Gallery in Buckhead to see this show. You will not be sorry that you did. I am posting a few images from the show here to entice you, but you can see the catalog and view more images at their website.
Seeing a show of this caliber just makes me want to paint better and better! I hope it will do that for you, too!