In a recent issue of Southwest Art, Richard Schmid was asked, "What are some of the biggest changes you've seen in your career?" His answer: "I've seen a widespread turn away from what we call modern art, and a strong turn toward highly skilled and serious content in American painting."
|Left: Pablo Picasso "Seated Woman with Wrist Watch," 1932|
Right: Richard Schmid, "Portrait," 1990's
What I admire about Schmid is that he was able to transition through those attitudes, taking from them teachings that could strengthen his painting while staying firm to his own identity as artist. What does that mean?
20th century dogma considered developing drawing and painting skills archaic. Ideas and expressiveness, uniqueness and invention and manipulating space were paramount. Visual thinking ruled over skills. Another way to say it is that the pendulum of visual art swung all the way to one side where either total distortion or extreme order over-rode craftsmanship.
Heroes of the day were artists like de Kooning, Rauschenburg and Mondrian.
|Willem de Kooning Robert Rauschenberg Piet Mondrian|
Workshops and tiny art schools mushroomed, founded by instructors who had managed to locate and study with rogue artists who had chosen to develop their skills outside of the university setting. The universities and mainstream were the last to catch on and still today old attitudes prevail, but in spite of that, once again the painters and sculptors of our era are finding out that to be highly skilled is to enable creativity, not the other way around as preached by our 20th century heritage.