Arts & Culture

Why Realism? Part 11: A Life Mission

TIMEMay 27, 2014

I never dreamed I would get to see the recreation of a system that produced so many great artists, but it’s happening right now, and the yearly ARC Salon competition, which started in 2003, has grown year after year. It is now administered by my daughter Kara Ross, ARC’s managing director, of whom I could not be more proud. 

In less than three years, it has more than doubled its number of participants, and this year we have nearly 2,200 entries. Every year, the winners are being picked up by galleries, and many of them are establishing successful careers.

Only when the best artists in the world compete nearly every year will the Salon once again take on the importance so long held by the Paris Salons. Each year, seeing each other’s work and sharing technical and aesthetic knowledge creates a cross-pollination that challenges and ensures ever-greater art competitions. 

We are actually already seeing this happen. In the past few years, I can finally say that the best artists today are within striking distance of painting masterpieces at the highest levels of art history. Some are already doing it, and I invite you all to view last year’s results and the years before that. 

With the power of the Internet, with credible organizations such as the network of associated societies of portrait artists, with the Art Renewal Center reaching countless millions of people, with the support now of six major art magazines all committed to reporting on the ARC yearly Salon winners, and with a vast growing array of other important developments in the realist art community, we are well on our way to a new birth of creativity and a vast new outpouring of human expression. 

It is an explosive reinvigoration of the visual arts, but this time fully imbued with the true meaning of freedom of expression.

So long as most of humanity is permitted to compare and decide for themselves what constitutes great art, and with poetry, truth, and beauty as guiding lights, a full rebirth of the universal language of traditional contemporary realism is assured.

This is the final part of an 11-part series presenting the speech given by Frederick Ross at the February 7, 2014, Artists Keynote Address to the Connecticut Society of Portrait Artists. Frederick Ross is chairman and founder of the Art Renewal Center.