Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Pre-Raphaelites and Me

Once upon a time there were Seven rather opinionated young artists, who decided to throw convention to the wind and do their own thing. This was in a day when art was ruled by convention, so what they did was radical in the extreme. They painted from life with realism, romance, and a love for mythology. They called themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and they changed the face of art in England in the 19th century.

I first heard about them at Fourth Street Fantasy convention in Minneapolis, many years ago when I was young and thirsty for art knowledge. Terri Windling gave a talk that captured the imaginations of everyone at this small convention. I even had a cassette tape recording of the talk, but it was lost long ago. Thankfully, Ms. Windling is still in the inspiration business and has articles online about it. Here's what she has to say:
Like the early Pre–Raphaelite Brotherhood (before the tides of fashion turned in their favor), fantasists must work outside the approval of the art establishment. Fantasists use themes that are once again considered beneath the notice of serious artists: myth, magic, fairy tales, and stories unabashedly Romantic. The Pre–Raphaelite artists worked in forms derided as craft or decoration, not high art: ceramics, weaving, embroidery, jewelry–making, furniture, and book design — just as today we work in forms that are also rarely considered high art: genre fiction, children's fiction, book illustration, and comics.

In a day when you can't swing a mouse without hitting another Wannabe fantasy/fairy artist's website, it would be nice to see some more with real talent, real vision, and real dedication to the craft of painting myth and legend on the scene. It's unfortunate that when hearts and minds are turning to fantasy via the excellent books and movies like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, all they can find in art is yet another cutsie-wootsie fairy. It's supply and demand though, so the market decides that crap is art once again. Too bad it's part of the fantasy genre.


Meredith said...

Tired of fairies eh? I like your other work better anyway.

Do you know about the "Mutual Suicide Association"? I will have to dig up that for you...

"Apropos of death, Hunt and I are going to get up among our acquaintance a Mutual Suicide Association, by the regulations whereof any member, being weary of life, may call at any time upon another to cut his throat for him. It is all of course to be done very quietly, without weeping or gnashing of teeth. I, for instance, am to go in and say, “I say, Hunt, just stop painting that head a minute, and cut my throat”; to which he will respond by telling the model to keep the position as he shall only be a moment, and having done his duty, will proceed with the painting."

- Rossetti

Beth Hansen-Buth said...

I'm tired of hundreds of BAD fairies out there, and the artists who are doing it for the money and not a true spirit of love for myth and legend. There's just so much crap out there right now.

Meredith said...

I'm pretty tired of painting them too. Maybe I should become a furry artist ;)