Is it real? The question many artists ask of their own work and of the works of others. Painters as distinctive as Andrew Wyeth and Marc Chagall asked themselves the question and considered it critical to any piece they produced. Chagall would go as far as to put his hand in front of a painting if nothing else was available to see if his work stood up to something alive existing in the natural world. In our conscience and subconscious we judge works by that criteria every day. Does a particular work stand up to this rigid standard? There are many artists that pass, succeed and in some ways go beyond. We generally think of them as The Masters. Rothko, DeKooning , and Freud are examples of painters. Serra, Rodin, Puryear, and anyone named Smith (Kiki, David, Tony etc.) as sculptors. Films like Chaplin’s “City Lights”, Huston’s “The Misfits” and even Cameron’s “Avatar” make the cut. Countless examples are found throughout the universe of art, creativity and ideas.
What is real? Any work that exists as a thing unto itself. Paul Gauguin once said when looking at a painting by Van Gogh “This man owes nothing to anyone.” With no doubt Van Gogh stands without rival in his unique position. He dared to change the virtual language of painting and in doing so created a new reality. A certain honesty is required and a strong element of truth is a must. There must be the ring of truth to be accepted. As Chagall asked of himself; how does the work hold up when placed or compared with other things in reality? You be the judge. A painting always looks better with someone standing in front of it. Think of anything that you’ve truly enjoyed; a novel, a play or song and you will probably think of how real it was or is to you. Something about it spoke to you.
Does everything real remain real? Is virtual reality, reality TV and Coca Cola real? Will Rembrandt, Gainsboro and Picasso remain real? Is everything dictated by constants or is it a reflection of the fashion of a given time. In the age of Murakami, Koons and Hirst has reality changed or just our perceptions?