The Twilight of Painting is a reactionary book about how everything is going to hell these days. It was first published in 1945. And it was written by the great artist R. H. Ives Gammell. In fact, the book is not about how everything is going to hell—just painting. You see, Gammell started painting during the pre-WWII era and he found that his work was totally outside the Modernist main-stream of the time. He was firmly rooted in the Academic Art of people like William Bouguereau—another artist I admire.
I first discovered Gammell and the art movement he started—American Classical Realism—at the Maryhill Museum of Art. They have a small room with perhaps twelve paintings. I spent over an hour in that room. It was amazing. The exhibit did not just include him; it included his disciples—in particular, Richard Lack.
More recent artists in this movement are pursuing some interesting paths. Take, for example, Jacob Collins:
Or Michael Grimaldi:
Or Graydon Parrish:
This is amazing, beautiful work.
Gammell always thought that Realism in painting would come back. And it has. But not at the expense of abstract work. The worldwide environment for art has changed in the post-modern era. Since any notion of absolute reality becomes more and more distant, and frankly, intellectually childish, so does the dominance of any one school of art. This means fewer artists become rich, but many more can make a living. That alone is welcome progress. However, even more welcome is the wondrous diversity of the art world; we are all enriched.