Realist art movement - Art Renewal Center -
Images courtesy of the Art Renewal Center

Plus, the Growing Excitement About the ARC International Salon Competition
*Deadline extended to March 31*

A guest post by Kara Lysandra Ross, co-chairman and chief operating officer for the Art Renewal Center (ARC)

The Art Renewal’s ARC Salon Competition has been growing exponentially and expanding both with the number of entrants and awards being offered as well as in global interest and support. In addition, people are becoming more and more excited by the live traveling exhibition associated with the competition. and attendance at this past year’s show at its three venues, (Salmagundi Club, NYC, Sotheby’s LA, and MEAM museum, Barcelona) was unusually high. Throngs of individuals came to all three openings, and 1,500 came through the Salmagundi Club in the 11 days we were open. Many of the photographs taken during the events reveal an enthusiastic and passionate group of individuals.

Realist art movement - Art Renewal Center -
The ARC Salon Competition is now accepting entries (click here for more details).

There are a couple of qualities that I think make the International ARC Salon Competition critically important. First, it is an essential and current documentation of the best realist artists and art being created worldwide. I like to think of it as the Olympics for serious fine art and artists. The competitions are currently running once every 15 months, and works that are entered must have been created in the past three years. This past year we had over 3,750 entries from 69 countries and 49 out of 50 US states. Our nine categories cover a vast variety of styles and subject matter, including Figurative, Portraiture, Still Life, Imaginative Realism, Landscape, Drawing, Sculpture, Animal Art, Plein Air Painting, and our new Fully From Life category. Works range in style from Photo Realism and Hyper Realism, to Naturalism, Classicism, and traditional and Impressionist works. Subject matter ranges from the beautiful to the bizarre and from the comedic to the profound.

Realist art movement - Art Renewal Center -
“Despite our cultural differences all people share certain core commonalities.”

Art as a Universal Language

The competition is about the importance of the universal language of realism. Even though our entrants are from many different countries and speak many different languages, they can communicate their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs to one another and to the world through their art. Using universally recognized imagery, these being the human form and gesture, human facial expressions, and the everyday objects and settings we as human beings recognize, we can hold a worldwide dialogue about the state of human existence. Despite our cultural differences all people share certain core commonalities. We all love, hurt, and fear. We all have experienced jealousy, excitement, happiness, and pain. I think this is a beautiful thing.

In the ARC Salon Competition, first and foremost, we want to see good solid technique. We look for accurate drawing (unless obviously exaggerated to give the work a specific feel). We look for good transitions from foreground to background, selective focus, modeling, lighting, and a consistent homogeneous feel so that the entirety of the work has a fluidic quality.

Realist art movement - Art Renewal Center -
“It is the diversity of style, technique, and subject matter that appear in the ARC Salon which proves to the world that the movement exists.”

We then look for works that make poignant statements on human existence or capture the essence of a certain feeling or mood. Works that win often have a strong emotional thrust or capture something of what it means to be alive. Since adjudicating art is somewhat subjective, when viewing subject matter and emotional power, we find it is essential to have at least four jurors analyze each work. Jurors do not always or even usually agree, so it is the combination of four opinions in each category that produce the salon results. This year we have 18 main category jurors selecting best in show out of our top-rated works in each category. If all or most jurors agree that a work is one of the best, we feel confident that the work will hold up to the high expectations of our greater audience.

At ARC we are doing our best to show the world that Realist Art is a movement, full and thriving. We are not one style and one train of thought. It is the diversity of style, technique, and subject matter that appear in the ARC Salon which proves to the world that the movement exists, that we are not just a handful of artists who all think and feel the same way about what art should be.

The fact that we are not considered a substantial movement by mainstream press and the current art establishment is a topic of heavy discussion among realist art circles within the United States. But those of us within the movement can say with confidence that the media and establishment has just not caught up to what is actually happening. Realism is indeed a thriving and growing movement.

You can’t have a Realist Art Movement without movements, plural. One train of thought and style of painting will never and should never predominate, as such a narrow approach will never gain enough support or traction to accomplish the primary objective, which is to bring realism back as the predominant form of visual artistic expression. Modernism was not just Abstract Expressionism, or just Cubism. There were many movements, artists, and philosophies within the Modernist ideology, such as Dadaism, Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism, Futurism, the list goes on and on, but we recognize them as having similar historical threads that tie them together under this heading of Modernism. The same is true with the Realist Art Movement. Because of this we are open to many styles of realism, but all must be original works of art created and conceived of by the participating artist.

Realist art movement - Art Renewal Center -
“The International ARC Salon is a platform for artists to show their greatest current works to realist art fans, gallery owners, collectors, museums, magazines, realist art organizations, and the like around the world.”

Many artists who engage in realistic painting face the same problem. How do they use traditional techniques to create works that reflect both our times and a contemporary spiritual essence? I think sometimes artists overthink this. As long as their works are their own concepts and creations and they are expressing themselves through subjects that excite them, their works will reflect a contemporary spiritual character. It cannot reflect anything else, since the artists who are creating these works are living in contemporary times.

All of their experiences and the art they create with it, will be driven spiritually through their current existence. They should not listen to the criticism that their techniques are based on historical techniques of the past. This is true of every human art form that has ever grown and developed over time. It is not logical to expect each new generation to start from scratch with nothing. This would be an insult to our ancestors who struggled to acquire new knowledge. Our lives on earth are short compared to the history of human existence. It is our responsibility as a species to build on what our forebears have given us so that we can continue to advance.

The International ARC Salon is a platform for artists to show their greatest current works to realist art fans, gallery owners, collectors, museums, magazines, realist art organizations, and the like around the world. We know that many artists have launched their careers through their participation in our competition. We have a wide variety of awards and opportunities, partnering with other organizations to provide this. We have a highly successful live international traveling exhibition of between 75 and 100 works from the competition. Our awards include featured articles on artists’ works in prominent realist art magazines, museum exhibitions, gallery shows and sales, and promotion on the ARC website as well as in our ARC Salon Publication, International Realism.

The deadline for the 14th ARC Salon has been extended until March 31, 2019, so there is still time to enter. To learn more and to enter, visit the ARC Salon Entry pages (click here).

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  1. In the middle of abstract expressionism I was doing figurative works and was criticised for it… I’m happy to see the revival of “realism”


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