What’s in a Name?
The Contemporary Florentine Realism exhibition received some criticism for the title. Some of the participating painters objected to the term ‘realism’ and on the Rational Painting forums the title sparked a thread questioning the need to use the word ‘contemporary’. Granted I did not spend a great deal of time thinking of the name. I just needed to come up with an all-inclusive title to describe what we do in the least offensive manner to all parties. Sometimes talking with other realists reminds me of what some wise man once said: ‘there is no greater cause for ferocious argument than a subtle difference between two abstract ideas’ (along those lines anyways, I can’t find the quote).
Most art movements were given their appellations long after the fact but in today’s soundbite-driven world, we should probably have a catchy name. Its interesting to think that some art movement names were originally insults, such as Baroque, Macchiaoli or Fauvism. Odd Nerdrum has been going for this approach by adopting ‘Kitsch’ to describe his painting, you can read his ideas on the subject on his website.
When I was studying, Classical Realism was the blanket denomination for traditional painting. It always seemed too ivory-tower to me, however, as many of my favorite artists are painting very modern subjects albeit with traditional methods and much of the plein air work I admire has nothing really ‘classical’ about it.
‘Slow Art Florence’ was an early choice for the show’s title, especially as the Slow Food movement it pilfers the name from is very popular here. Greg Hedberg has already used ‘Slow Painting’ for his show at the Oglethorpe University Museum in 2006 (Aristos had an interesting critique of the name here). Though it’s a good idea, a quick google search for ‘Slow Art’ turns up a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with this show, and I paint pretty fast anyways.
Two of the best ideas for a title were from the Rational Painting forums. The first was Graydon Parish‘s ‘Post-Contemporary’ art, since the word has already been corrupted to mean a style and not a time. The other was Mark Diederichsen‘s ‘Reconstructionism’, a play on Derrida’s Deconstructionism which has influenced so much of Postmodernism. Unfortunately, once again, a quick browse through google turns up exhibitions of Post-Contemporary art (which appear to just be more of the same), and Reconstructionism is already a hard-core Christian movement advocating a return to Mosaic law.
Back to the drawing board. If anyone has suggestions, post them in the comments please.
Update: For the time being I’m using ‘Post-contemporary’ for the show title on the door, I find it too amusing to pass on.