Pictures of Angels, Names of Angels and Angel lore; An Exhibit of 21st Century Angel Art and a brief introduction to Angelology: Realistic illustrations featuring spiritual themes inspired by Classic and Romantic Paintings in a wide variety of media along with commentary on the various illustrations and followed by essays and articles with themes relevant to this kind of art. Newly Updated for 2013!
The Virtual Gallery of
Angel Artwork for the 21st Century
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With a background in traditional media including oils, pastels & colored pencils, Howard David Johnson embraces leading edge digital media in the creation of his depictions of fantasy, folklore, mythology, legend, religion, and heroic history. He works in and mixes a wide variety of media * Oil paintings * Acrylic Paintings * Prismacolor Paintings * Drawings * Chalk & Oil Pastel Paintings * Photography * Digital Artistry & Mixed Media *
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Ingerii si arta sublim inspirata~ a film by Veveshakti
|"The Messenger" MMI||"Raphael and the Sephiroth Tree" MMVIII|
Over thousands of years, mankind has described the
functions of angels in many ways. The role of angels is developed in greatest
detail in religions based on revelation - the disclosure or communication of
divine truth or divine will to human beings. These monotheistic religions that
share this view include Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism.
How far this Angelology was influenced by Babylonian and Persian mythology, and what its relations are to Mandæan lore and to Egyptian-Hellenistic Gnosticism, is still a matter of dispute but Persian mythology is throughout and interwoven with Angelology (see Brandt, "Mandäische Religion," pp. 194-198). Coptic Gnosticism, also, has Ariel as king of the nether world, corresponding with Ur of the Mandæans.
In the Koran, Jewish and Gnostic angelologies seem to be intermingled. In Mohammed's time the old Arabian goddesses—Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat —were spoken of as angels and daughters of God (Koran, sura xxxvii. v.150, liii. v.20).
The chief of all the archangels is Gabriel (Jibril); Michael comes next; Israfil (Sarafiel) sounds the trumpet of the resurrection; and Azrael is the angel of death (the etymology of the last name is obscure). Instead of four, there are eight angels that support the throne of God (sura xlix. v.17).
|Some angels have two, some three, others four wings (sura xxxv. v.2). "They celebrate the praise of their Lord and ask forgiveness for those that are on earth" (sura xlii. v.2).|
|"The Angel of Deliverance" MMVIII||"The Ministering Angel of Comfort" MMVIII|
Jewish philosopher Maimonides taught that angels are creatures
possessing form without matter. They are pure spirits differentiated
from one another not by any bodily distinctions but solely by
spiritual form and purpose, that the angels are only seen in the Bible
as creatures of fire and human form with wings as a feature of the
Philo of Alexandria, a Hellenistic Philosopher (20
BC-50 AD) was inclined to accept the existence of angels as a
fact far more than his allegorical system would lead one to surmise.
He was prompted to do so through the example of the Stoics;
they are "souls hovering in the air"; "some have descended into
bodies; others have not thought fit to approach any part of the earth;
and these, hallowed and surrounded by the ministrations of the Father,
the Creator employs as assistants and ministers for the care of the
mortals." "They report the injunctions of the Father to His children,
and the necessities of the children to the Father. And, with reference
to this, Holy Scripture represents them as 'ascending and descending.'
. . . Not God, but we mortals are in need of a mediator and
intercessor" (Philo, "On Dreams," i. v.22). "Souls, demons, and angels
are things differing in name, but identical in reality. Yet, as men
speak of God and of evil demons and of good and evil souls, so they
"The Angels of Forgiveness" MMX
|"An Angel Blessing and Protecting a Home" MMVIII||"The Next World" MVIII Thegri, the Angel set over the beasts|
In religions based on revelation, God and humans are usually distant from each other. Angels serve to bridge the gap. Angels praise and worship God, reveal the divine word and carry out God's will. They may also help people attain deliverance, comfort or receive special favors. Furthermore, in acting for God, angels may influence human affairs through such acts as rewarding faithful believers, punishing those who do evil, and helping those in need. An angel set over the beasts is mentioned in Hermas' "Visions," iv. V.2; his name is Thegri. Angels tend to play a less important role in religions that worship many gods. These gods themselves may carry out angelic functions, often taking on a human appearance. In religions based on the belief that everything is god and that the universe and mankind share one essence, angels are far less important. They are not needed to bridge a gap between divinity and mortals. However, even in these religions angel-like spiritual beings may help people relate to divinity. It is in the Book of Daniel that a systematic classification of angels is first presented. In Joshua (5:13-15) reference is made to "the captain of the Lord's host".
|"The Archangel Michael" MMV||"Daniel in the Lion's Den" MMV protected by a Strong Angel|
tradition lays down A Heavenly Hierarchy,
|"Escorting a Soul to Heaven" MMVII||"The Guardian angel" MMVII|
accompany the dead on their departure from this world. Accompanying angels are
not permanent, but temporary, companions, they carry out missions but can be
constantly re-dispatched by the least of us through faithful prayer as answered
by the almighty. No single angel can carry out two messages, nor can two angels
fulfill only one message. Of the three angels that came to Abraham, Michael, the
guardian angel of Israel, brought the tidings of Isaac's birth; Gabriel, the
angel of heavenly vengeance and of fire, had to overthrow Sodom; and Raphael
rescued Lot" (Gen. xviii. v.2). Michael to the
right, Uriel to the left, Gabriel in front, and Raphael in the rear of the
throne. The Book of Jubilees, a version of the Pentateuch speaks of the Creation
In the Book of Tobit the name of a
third angel appears—namely, Raphael ("God healeth," Tobit, iii. v.17)—called thus
after his mission. "God hath sent me," he says, "to heal thee and Sarah, thy
daughter-in-law. I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the
prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One"
(Tobit, xii. v.14-15). The angels that execute God's
judgment are called "the angels of punishment" Each angel has a tablet on his
heart on which his name, combined with the name of God (EL).
Cherubs and Cherubim
With this Heavenly hierarchy firmly in mind, a look at the visual portrayals of Angels in the Western Art tradition seems appropriate, particularly Cherubs and Cherubim; above are two very different interpretations : "Joan of Arc" MMVI (left) has the popular and time honored but incorrect interpretation of "Cherubs" or more aptly "Putti" and "Ezekiel's Vision" MMX (right), with more accurate six-winged Cherubim Angels with three faces each from descriptions in the visionary Book of Ezekiel chapter one. Classical (or Greco-Roman) tradition has influenced Christian art from it's earliest origins. Since the conversion of Constantine in 313 A.D. The earliest Christian catacombs and tomb art incorporated the popular Greco-Roman Putti (or little Cupidic figures). The Putto were revived with passion in the works of Donatello and Raphael and became commonplace in the renaissance before they became one of the most dominant interpretations of Angels in painting and sculpture. The misuse of the term Cherubs for the Putti and their use in art as symbols of innocence has become so commonplace and time honored that it is now considered correct. Commonplace and correct are not always the same. Most people don't even know about the authentic Cherubim, who are among the highest ranked and holiest of God's Angels or realize they have been replaced with mischievous little demons from Pagan religion in much of our Western Art tradition.
ANGELS and DEMONS
|The worship of the angels that removed the stone to the tomb of the Lord before the resurrection. "The First Easter" MMX (left) and "Into the Lake of Fire" MMX from The Book of Revelation Ch. 20: "The Dragon that old serpent, that is the Devil, cast in the Lake of Fire where he will be tormented for ever and ever." Satan is one of the sons of God (Job, i. 6, ii. 1). This makes the problem of evil all the more difficult. The Biblical story of the sons of God marrying the daughters of men (Gen. vi. 1-4), implying the possibility of angels lusting and sinning, suggested the idea of a fall, not only of man, but of pure heavenly beings as well. Taken together with the (Babylonian?) legends of Lucifer (Isaiah. xiv. 12), it seemed to take for granted the existence of evil spirits working antagonistically to God through the evil practices of witchcraft, astrology, and the like. Fallen angels became progenitors of hosts of evil spirits and seducers of men to crime and vice. Still, they were finally subjugated by the power of heaven, and punished by the archangels Raphael and Gabriel, and consequently a knowledge of their names would enable one to control them. The names of angels formed a favorite study of the Essenes in view of the magical cures effected by means of these names; for upon the accurate knowledge of the name and sphere of each angel. In the Testament of Solomon pp. 1-45 (an apocryphal book)||
A SHINTO KAMI (A Kami is a Shinto or Buddhist revered spirit or god) "The Love Spell of the Tengu" MMX
King Solomon's experiences confronting demons are related, of each of whom he asks his name as well as the name of the angel that can overpower him. Asmodeus answers that he is frustrated by Raphael, the archangel; another demon answers Paltiel is his most feared antagonist; a third, Uriel, etc. In Mark's Gospel 5:9; Christ does this as well. (Jesus) "...asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many." Then he cast them all out. Jesus' disciples came to him about their failures in Matthew 17:21 and he told them "...an evil spirit of this kind is only driven out by prayer and fasting". In the Book of Acts 19 v.13-18 The Seven sons of Sceva were professional exorcists and attempted to rebuke evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, "I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches." And the evil spirit answered and said to them, "I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" and the spirit overpowered him. It was like signing a check with someone else's name when you were not granted power of attorney. Becoming a Christian gives us that power of attorney to use his name in these matters according to the Bible.
"The Angel of Prophecy and Revelation" MMVIII (Left) and "Escape from Sodom" MMX (right)
The Angel-Princes of the Earth
There is, however, a special angel-prince set over the world, Sar ha-'olam (Yeb. 16b, Sanh. 94a). He composed the verses, Ps. xxxvii. 25, civ. 31, and, partly, Isa. xxiv. 16. He has been identified, whether correctly or incorrectly, with Metatron. According to the Testament of Job (lii.), this vice-regent "sitteth upon the great chariot" His "name is like the name of his Master" (Sanh. 38b, according to Ex. xxiii. 21), known under the name of "Metatron"; frequently explained as "Metator," "Metathronos," and "Metatyranos." Already in Dan. x. 20-21, the idea prevails that each nation has a heavenly guardian angel or prince. In Enoch, lxxxix. 59, the seventy shepherds are the guardian angels of the seventy nations over whom Michael, as Israel's angel-prince, is set as ruler. With these seventy-one angel-princes of the world God sits in council when holding judgment over the world (Hebrew Enoch; Jellinek, "B. H." v. 181); each pleading the cause of his nation before God. But The Archangel Michael, the angel-prince of Jerusalem (Zion, Targ. Ps. cxxxvii. 7-8), is set over all the seventy angels.
However great the tendency to enlarge the number and the influence of the angels over life, there is, on the other hand, great stress laid upon the fact that the angels are in many respects inferior to man. Already Enoch (xv. 2) intercedes on behalf of the angels, instead of having them intercede for him; and none of the angels could see what he saw of God's glory (ibid. xiv. 21), or learn the secrets of God as he knew them. When John fell at the angel's feet to worship him in his account in The Book of Revelation, (22:9) the angel said: "Don't do that! For I am thy fellow servant just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!"
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For more on Angelology and online copies of some of these rare books mentioned visit our sources:
www.jewishencyclopedia.com and www.sacred-texts.com
The Dead Sea Scrolls
and of course -The Holy Koran and The Holy Bible
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Who is Artist and Photographer Howard David Johnson?
In David's invitation to the Florence Biennale Contemporary Art Exhibition, (a partner in the United Nations' Dialog among Nations), UN Secretary General Kofi Anon wrote him: "Artists have a special role to play in the global struggle for peace. At their best, artists speak not only to people; they speak for them. Art is a weapon against ignorance and hatred and an agent of public awareness... Art opens new doors for learning, understanding, and peace among nations."
A portrait of the artist in his painting studio as he is today. This September 2009 photo was taken by his youngest son Erich.
Howard David Johnson is a contemporary
realistic artist and photographer with
a background in the natural sciences and history. After a lifetime of drawing and painting,
David works in a wide variety of mixed media ranging from
oil on canvas
to digital media.
David's Traditional Realistic Art was exhibited in the British Museum in London in 1996, ( 3 years before he got his first computer ) as well as numerous American ones since, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. David's realistic illustrations have made appearances in every major bookstore and game shop chain in America as well as magazines and educational texts around the world.
of his more prestigious clients have included the National Geographic
Society, the University of Texas, the
University of Cambridge in England, Paramount Studios, Universal Studios, PBS TV, Enslow
Educational Publishers, Adobe Photoshop, Auto FX, Doubleday, the
History Book of the Month Club, & J Walter Thompson Advertising, just to name a
few. Working in a variety of
media David offers his customers a variety of options and more
than three decades of
experience. As a realistic illustrator he has not only used the computer but has been involved
in the development and marketing of software for Adobe Photoshop.
Digital art, Colored pencils, Pastels, Mixed media, & also Oil
Paintings can also be commissioned for select projects.
Working in a variety of media David offers his customers a variety of options and more than three decades of experience. As a realistic illustrator he has not only used the computer but has been involved in the development and marketing of software for Adobe Photoshop. Digital art, Colored pencils, Pastels, Mixed media, & also Oil Paintings can also be commissioned for select projects.
Digital illustration projects start at $500.USD. and group rates are available. David delivers custom made copyright free illustrations & old fashioned customer service when he does work-for-hire. To publish existing pieces of his realistic art, David sells licenses starting at only $99.USD.
All these pieces of realistic art and the text are legally copyrighted and were registered with the U.S. Library of Congress Office of Copyright by the author, Howard David Johnson All rights reserved worldwide. Permission for many academic or non-commercial uses is freely and legally available by simply contacting the author via e-mail or visiting www.howarddavidjohnson.com/permission.htm
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Philosophy, Art, & Art Philosophy
Personal Opinion Essays on spirituality, and realistic art yesterday and today by the artist.
H. D. Johnson worked as a scientific research consultant for the University of Texas at San Antonio through the 1970's under the guidance of top Texas Scientists illustrating reconstructions of Paleontology and Anthropology, oddly enough, he then worked under the guidance of the world's foremost Biblical Scholars for the Center for Judeo-Christian Studies. The two dramatically different experiences back to back caused him to wonder...
Has Science become a Religion?
a brief essay applying the scientific method to religious studies by the artist
"Believing in God does not make you stupid; Galileo believed, Newton believed, Einstein believed. Going against the consensus of the scientific community also does not make you stupid- they all did! " ~ Howard David Johnson MMX
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Essay and Articles Section:
Philosophy, Art, & Art Philosophy
Personal Opinion Essays on Realism yesterday and today by the artist.
STYLE and TECHNIQUE
Howard David Johnson is an outspoken proponent of mechanical aids to visual art. Unlike the opponents of mechanical aids, his mission is not to prove his talent but to help preserve our vanishing Western cultural heritage. In addition to his mastery of the traditional media, now combines drawing, painting, photography, and digital media with more than thirty years of experience in these fields to create his Realistic Art Numerica in 21st century paintings and pictures. Did you know the Greek word "Photography" means "Painting with Light"? Today with the advent of computers it truly lives up to it's name. Due to developments in Art and Technology, a broader definition of painting is needed than that which is found in common usage. Introducing Art Numerica- an exciting merger of traditional visual art and cutting edge technology... a new art form for the twenty- first century... Art Numerica is not limited to realistic art but also offers limitless horizons for everything from cartoons to abstractions.
It is the most dramatic development in the visual arts since the Renaissance.
is a school of thought that seems to think that a caveman’s beating on a
hollow log with a stick is automatically superior to Beethoven’s Ninth
Symphony performed by the world’s finest symphony orchestra because less
technology is involved. I do not subscribe to this kind of thinking.
Personally I LOVE computers!
First of all, there’s the freedom from fear! The undo button is empowering
More importantly, publishing
customers can't afford to pay me for old-fashioned traditional methods like
oil on canvas. I can do them, and do them well, but no one but millionaire
art collectors can afford to pay even poverty level hourly rates for all
that time. The masters often took a year for a single painting. With digital
media I can create pieces that look very nice for very nice prices and with
blazing speed. The publishing industry is not noted for its patience. In the
early days of my art career, mailing traditional media originals was scary
at best, but now they can be scanned and shipped without risk.
Also in my early days adding canvas space to a work in progress was as
impossible as growing a second head... but now it is so easy I usually don't
even charge extra to adapt them if its just skies or landscapes! Re-dos and
revisions were financially catastrophic! No wonder the starving artist
became a stereotype! Before the internet, I struggled to find customers in
Austin Texas, now nearly every nation
on Earth has visited my website! This was beyond my wildest imaginings as a
boy. What an amazing era we live in! I love it!!!
~ Howard David Johnson
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
|Howard David Johnson is a contemporary visual artist and photographer with a background in|
|the natural sciences and history. He works in a wide variety of media ranging from traditional|
|oils, pastels and others to cutting edge digital media. He loves mixing media. This site features|
|examples of his Realistic Art, including illustration, photography, experimentalism, and fine art|
The various galleries linked to by the icons above show many examples of His Realistic Art, and are grouped by theme rather than media. Since boyhood he has passionately copied the old masters. Using a strategy employed by J.W. Waterhouse (The old master David has imitated most) - his wistful and graceful models cannot be underestimated in their contribution to the stunning beauty and the potential for lasting appeal of his work. To create his work, he usually starts with a thematic concept, then working in his Photography studio with live models. He then assembles a variety of elements which are realistic and original. As a boy he dedicated his life to art in 1960. From 1965- 1999 he used xeroxes and tracings to make his preliminary photo montages. This is patterned after the manner used by Maxfield Parrish and other 19th century notables. For this he offers no apology as many of the greatest artists in history employed any and all means of technology at their disposal such as Camera Obscura or even the evil manufactured tube paints. See his article below: "On Art and Technology: When Seeing is Not Believing" An essay dealing with mechanical aids to visual art from Camera Obscura to Computers for more on this. The digital montage is a natural evolution of the preliminary photo collage David learned from great Realistic illustrators like Maxfield Parrish and Norman Rockwell. You'd think by now everything would have been tried but it hasn't. Exploring new art mediums is just as exciting today, just as full of freshness and newness as it ever been.
Since 1972 when he began his career as a scientific illustrator for the University of Texas he has earned his living illustrating all kinds of books, magazines, CD covers, and all sorts of games, greeting cards, calendars, portraits, tapestries, murals and the like with his contemporary realistic art... David's Realistic Art has appeared in every major bookstore chain in The United States and has been used in educational texts and magazines all over the world.
Philosophy, Art, & Art Philosophy
Personal Opinion Essays on Realism yesterday and today by the artist.
"Those who are enamoured of practice without science are like a pilot who goes into a ship without rudder or compass and never has any certainty where he is going. Practice should always be based upon a sound knowledge of theory, of which perspective is the guide and gateway, and without it nothing can be done well in any kind of painting."
Essay One: "THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME..."(A Brief essay dealing with attitudes toward Traditional Realistic Paintings, Pastels, Colored Pencils and Art Numérica )
"Painting, in art, the action of laying colour on a surface, or the representation of objects by this means. Considered one of the fine arts"
"Painting. noun. 1.) The act or employment of laying on colors or paints. 2.) The art of forming figures or objects in colors on canvas or any other surface, or the art of representing to the eye by means of figures and colors any object; the work of an illustrator or painter. 3.) A picture; a likeness or resemblance in shape or colors. 4.) Colors laid on. 5.) Delineation that raises a vivid image in the mind; as in word painting.
~ Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language
Pastel, Acrylics, and Colored Pencils combined
Snobbism in the arts is nothing new. Some people will tell you that oils are the only valid medium for realistic paintings. That Colored Pencil, Digital, and other Realistic Painting and Drawing Media are not valid for "real" art. Young artists, Don't let them bother you. Their forerunners used to condemn Pastels before they gained acceptance and called them "crayons" when Johann Alexander Thiele (1685-1752) invented them. Mercilessly disrespectful art critics of the time could not stop the Experimentalists no matter how viciously they attacked and derided them. "Crayon-painting" as it was called in England was practiced early on by persecuted pioneers in Switzerland and many other nations. What a debt we owe to these master artists who refused to knuckle under to the pressure of those short-sighted critics during those historic and experimental times. It took until 1870 with the founding of the "Societe` Des Pastellistes" in France that respect came at last to these heroic & immortal visual artists.
In England the liberation of the Pastellists from slight regard and undeserved disrespect came with the first exhibition of "The Pastel Society" at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1880. Pastel Painters like Mary Cassat and others from America and other nations forever silenced the snobs with their masterworks and gained recognition at long last for Thiele's invention as a valid art medium. I am persuaded that history will repeat itself. Like Pastels, I believe these wonderful new colored pencils and even Digital Realistic Art Media will one day receive the recognition they deserve as powerful mediums of artistic expression just as pastel paintings did. What is your definition of art? Have you thought about it?
Mine is: "anything that makes you feel or think."
Consider dancing... it can be a little skip in the step or rise to the level of the incomparable Russian Ballet. Did you know that just the materials alone for a single oil painting cost up to a thousand dollars these days? Even paying the artist less than minimum wage no one but the super rich can afford them anymore. Something's got to give. Realistic paintings in oil have been highly prized for centuries and the appeal and following of realistic art is undiminished to this day. Oil paintings featuring Abstract Art and Realistic Art are generally the most treasured form of all the visual art media and with good reason. But snobbish art critics favoring abstract art have declared that realistic paintings, or illustrations are not art for a century. With so many representationalist paintings by so many immortal master artists hanging in the Louvre, the Hermitage, and the British Museum and others I think the disrespect for realistic illustrators that dominated the 20th century is academically ridiculous as well as vain and intolerant, insisting theirs is the only valid opinion. What is your definition of Art? I believe almost any form of human expression can be raised to the level of "high art" especially visual art and Realistic illustration...
The detail reveals Realistic art and abstract art combined
By my own definition of art, which is: "anything that makes you feel or think" most abstract paintings are not "real art" to me personally, because abstract paintings usually neither make me feel or think, usually focusing obsessively on technique and avoiding any coherent content. I usually draw a complete blank mentally and emotionally when I look at them. In 1979 the Houston Metropolitan Museum of Art displayed a triptych of 3 giant paintings they paid fifty thousand dollars for- three blank white canvasses entitled "untitled". Then there was "The incredible new artistic Genius" with an I.Q. of 62 ...Congo the chimpanzee with his gala New York art exhibition...an elaborate prank played on the Snobbish American Art critics about a generation ago by research scientists in the field of primatology. Imagine how upset they were when he created one of his "ingenious masterpieces" right before their eyes.
( My Source for this is the Time Life Science Library volume entitled "The Primates". )
Art education has been almost completely removed from American Schools as a result of generations of this kind of fabulous nonsense contributing to America's cultural illiteracy crisis. Now, the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and other notables are being removed from school libraries. After generations of this, most American college graduates today cannot name even one living visual artist, abstract or realistic.
There is no way that mandating more math, requiring more reading, or scheduling more science will replace what we have lost as a culture.
What is your definition of Art?
Abstract Paintings by Congo the Chimpanzee outsold Warhol and Renoir by
over 25,000 dollars in June 2005 at a London art auction. Born in 1954,
Congo created more than 400 drawings and paintings between the ages of two
and four. He died in 1964 of tuberculosis. There is no precedent for this
kind of sale.
Essay Two : The Rebirth of Realism
More thoughts on realistic art yesterday and today by the artist
Art History has entered a new era with the birth of Art Numérica, or digital art media in the 21st century. Artists never stop exploring with mediums. Artists have been developing techniques, experimenting with different tools since at least twenty- five thousand years ago, when the first artist picked up a charred stick and scratched a picture out on the wall of his cave. You'd think everything would have been tried by now, but it hasn't. Exploring new mediums this very day is just as exciting, just as full of freshness and newness as it ever was.
|The creation of Realistic art has been the goal of most artists since the dawn of civilization. Realistic art was the pride of ancient Greece. The world's greatest museums are full of realistic art. Realistic art WAS art until the advent of the abstract expressionist movement in the twentieth century. The coming of the camera in the nineteenth century changed realistic art forever. Suddenly, realistic art was not the only way to create realism in portraits and historical records. The work of the realistic artist was suddenly made into an expensive luxury. The political power of the realistic artist was broken and they were no longer an indispensable member of society. Hostility to the creators of realistic art goes back to ancient times and the jealousy of advisers to the Pharaohs and others who were not able to spend as much time with their rulers as their portraitists. Although with the aid of photographs, realistic art achieved levels of excellence undreamed of, the realistic art movement of the late nineteenth century was short. None of these people earning their living creating realistic art could compete with the speed and low cost of photographic portraiture. Determined to survive, great realistic artists like Pablo Picasso ingeniously turned inward and began to explore things that could not be photographed in a new school of art, abstract expressionism.|
|The day of the fine art superstars had arrived. It was now largely just a hobby to abstract and realistic artists alike. Illustration, because of advances in printing technology enabled an elite few to earn a living with their realistic art. These illustrators working in realistic art media were condemned and ridiculed in much the same way Europe's great symphonic composers were condemned for working in motion pictures after fleeing the nazis during World War Two. The rift between realistic and abstract art grew wider and wider. The universities and key media usually sided with the abstract camp and derided anyone working in any realistic art media declaring boldly that realistic art was not "real" art. Immortal giants of realistic art such as Maxfield Parrish were mistreated their entire lives. They were accused of selling out for creating beautiful pieces of realistic fine art to earn a living. The attitude that the true artist must suffer and starve and die in poverty became a rule. There were the Abstract art superstars, the professional realistic illustrators, and the hobbyists who, although cut off from gainful employment and social influence still recognized their artistic gifts as a calling rather than a profession.|
Early abstract art masters proved themselves as realistic artists before delving into realms of the intangible. They had to do this at that time to prove themselves because of the challenges they faced from the establishment for going against the status quo. In the latter part of the 20th century, realistic artists like HDJ were challenged to do abstract art to prove themselves as shown in the example above (Deirdre of the sorrows). Later realistic art training was abandoned in most schools and things like splattering paint in fits of rage were deemed more than enough. By the end of the 20th century something as destructive and ridiculous as nailing a pack of cigarettes to a shoe was considered fine art but not realistic paintings. Fashions in art have often been as silly as fashions in ladies hats. As the century drew to a close, many people had had enough. The realistic revolt was at hand. The rebirth of realism was fueled by the advent of the digital era. Now, for the first time in almost two centuries, an artist or illustrator could earn a decent living again with his realistic art. This is historic. Realistic art is not going to go away, especially now that photography has truly merged with traditional realistic visual art. Photography comes from the Greek words meaning "painting with light". Now with the advent of digital media the capability of realistic art has become almost limitless, truly, "painting with light". The merger of all the world's art forms to realize the potential of motion pictures has come now to still realistic art media. This website for example, combines music, prose, poetry, photography and traditional realistic art media to create an experience beyond merely looking at realistic paintings.
The twenty- first century is already seeing a new renaissance in the arts because of the world wide web. There has never been anything like it. Abstract art, computer art, photographic art, and realistic art are continuing to be separate schools of art but are also blending to create exciting new horizons. Although Digital art does offer completely new horizons to the artist in the 21st century it does not mean the end of our time honored art traditions. Instead, it offers additional ways to keep these traditions and schools of thought fresh and alive. ~ HDJ
Essay Seven: NEW!
On Art and Technology: When Seeing is Not Believing
An essay dealing with mechanical aids to visual art from Camera Obscura to Computers
When the camera was finally made commercially available in the 1830's it exploded on the world scene and sent shockwaves through the art world as history had never seen before. Visual artists all over the world were suddenly put out of work and resentment and outrage followed. Suddenly much more realistic portraits could be had at a tiny fraction of the cost of a painting and delivered almost instantly. The art world would never be the same. When motion picture cameras were new, seeing was believing and human consciousness changed forever in the 20th century. Sometimes even Terror and Panic came from the initial shock! In 1905 cinema patrons defecated and urinated in their seats as they broke each other's arms and legs desperately fleeing for their lives from a crowded theater to escape a train charging straight for them! ... train footage filmed safely from a bridge with a camera lowered down on a rope. A modern cinema patron would not even feel uncomfortable. The Photograph and its manipulations have changed human consciousness and history... and will continue to do so in the future.
The Camera has changed everything.
The Camera of Today owes it's origin to the Camera Obscura, a light- tight box with a lense and a screen that receives an image. This device has been used by artists since ancient times to trace the projected image of whatever they set before it on a screen. Intrigued by the idea of producing a permanent light-formed image instead of reproducing it by hand, a long line of inventors studied the problem and successively made contributions to the solution.
Photography was neither discovered nor invented by any one man. It was the outcome of the early observations of the alchemists and chemists on the action of light, a subject that belongs strictly to the domain of photochemistry. Although the blackening of silver salts was known in 1565, it was not until 1727, when Johann Heinrich Shulze of Germany used a mixture of silver nitrate and chalk under stenciled letters, that it was definitely recognized that this darkening action was caused by light and not by heat. In the years that followed experiments with silver nitrate on leather and wood were successful. In 1817 J. Nicephore Niepce first tried photography with silver nitrate and paper. In 1826, L.J.M. Daguerre, a painter who had experimented with silver salts approached him and formed a partnership. Daguerre discovered accidentally that that the effect produced by exposing an iodized silver plate in a camera would result in an image if the plate were fumed with mercury vapor. The Daguerreotype process was a complete success. These chemical processes would be improved again and again until the advent of the digital camera we know today. The attitude that Photography was not art and was a purely mechanical process requiring no talent whatsoever was put forth with great force and hostility in an attempt to get people to refrain from choosing it for their portraits instead of paintings. This is a typical reaction to new technology, when Pastels were first invented they were dismissed as a childs plaything rather than a viable art medium. These attacks on new technology are not limited to the arts of course. When the Wright brothers were making history at Kitty hawk with the first manned airplane their detractors said: "If man were meant to fly, he'd have been born with wings." This kind of negativity is just human nature to some kinds of people.
Photography came into being through an artistic, not a scientific urge. Daguerre was an artist, a scene painter whose illusionistic diorama was a landmark in Paris long before his name was connected with photography. Critics were merciless as usual, with scathing condemnations of the media. However, in the hands of a sensitive artist, photography quickly showed it's artistic possibilities. David Octavious Hill, a Scottish Painter invented the camera set up and the pose as we know them today in the 1840's and was the first of a new breed of master photographic artists. Photography was here to stay. Diverse forms of retouching techniques followed both by accident and by design and took the medium to new levels of artistic excellence. Now, more than a century and a half later only an uneducated or blindly hateful person would say Photography is not an art form. Of course we've all seen our share of awful pictures with the heads cut off taken by amateur photographers but we've also seen the work of studio masters like the great portrait photographers from Hollywood in the 1930's and forties. Anyone who has tried to create such a sophisticated studio photograph realizes quickly that this is a very difficult art form to master even if a trained orangutan can take a bad snapshot with an instant camera made for children.
The use of Photography as a mechanical aid to traditional oil paintings and other forms of realistic art came right away. This is not surprising since artists had been tracing from Camera Obscura for thousands of years. Famous Myths; Leonardo Da Vinci ( 1452-1519 ) is often credited with the invention of Camera Obscura because he used it for his masterworks during the Renaissance and mentioned it in his notebooks, but this is simply not true. Similarly, Americans are credited with the camera, but it is also not true. Origins: Unlike the camera, the inventor and time of invention of Camera Obscura are unknown. Perhaps a crude form of it was known to the ancient Greeks, but there is no material evidence to substantiate such a point of view. The mathematical precision and perfect anatomy of Greek art combined with their passionate love of science and mathematics is testimony enough for many scholars. The earliest clear description of Camera Obscura occurs in the great optical treatise of the Islamic scientist Al-Hazen who died at Cairo, Egypt in A.D. 1098. His Opticae Thesaurus ( Book of optics ) was rendered into Latin sometime during the 12th or 13th century by an unknown translator. Al- Hazen honestly declares that he himself did not discover it, so we know from this it had to have been masterminded before A.D. 1098.
|Camera obscura is a device for tracing or sketching large objects. It consists of a box painted black inside- a mirror at a 45 degree angle , and a lens, like that used in a photographic camera. An image is thrown on the mirror by the lens and reflected on the screen, where it can be sketched with tracing paper. The Camera Obscura was in general use by newspaper and magazine illustrators until it was replaced by the photographic camera. Make no mistake. Professionals have been using mechanical aids since the first caveman shaman traced his hand out on the wall of his cave. The view finder on the reflex camera is a development from Camera Obscura. Camera obscura, interestingly enough, is Latin for "darkened chamber".||
In the early 1600's the telescope came into use and Camera Obscura spared viewers the harmful effects of gazing directly into the sun. I regret, but that we must acknowledge the fact that almost every art medium throughout the ages has been corrupted. In the 2nd century, the Roman emperor Hadrian had the head of his lunatic predecessor Nero removed from a statue and replaced by that of his favorite. Much later in 1539, Holbein painted a glamorous and flattering portrait of Anne of Cleves for Henry VIII. When the future queen arrived in England, King Henry met the surprisingly less than dazzling and glamorous Anne. His disappointment made history. Our modern society certainly can't claim t he honor nor take the blame of being the first to manipulate art forms.
By the 21st century instead of the traditional assistants and apprentices, artists employed overhead transparency projectors, opaque projectors, artographs, light tables, slide projectors, color photocopying... and suddenly, computers and image editing software, which brings us to some very compelling controversies regarding these modern imaging technologies and their impact on various media and further changes to human consciousness. For example: The integrity of Photography as evidence in our courts of law stood for many decades until it was shattered by the digital manipulation of photographs and new standards needed to be introduced. Websites sold peeks at photos of celebrities' heads pasted onto photos of wild women in scandalous poses for all the world to see- but advertised as real celebrity pix. Scandal rocked television and other news media when digitally altered photographs were being passed off as reliable evidence of important news stories...
On a positive note, no one was threatened by how this technology enabled motion pictures to do epic things they could only dream of before. They were supposed to be make-believe images appearing real! A golden era in special effects cinema ensued. Then, this powerful digital imaging technology, like the camera, fell into the hands of the common man through computer programs like Adobe Photoshop. A new culture of skepticism had abandoned the age old adage; "seeing is believing" Photography has never told the whole truth, just parts of it. Photography is also an art form and therefore rightfully susceptible to creative alterations. In addition, the advancement of digital manipulation technology cannot be undone or halted. I believe that we must recognize that this digital technology exists on a gigantic-scale, and will never go away. Therefore, I suggest that digitally altered photos are distinct from traditional photography, and should be treated as such.
Contrasting views: anti-manipulation advocates fear a negative impact of digital manipulation in a court of law, and pro-manipulation advocates say that we must wake up to the fact that for for decades pictures have not been reliable evidence in court and that any good lawyer will attempt to discredit photographic evidence. In response to claims that photos should always tell the truth, the pro-manipulation camp would say that photos have never told the unvarnished truth. A camera shows, and has always only shown, a fraction of reality, and even then what we see is taken out of context or even fabricated. Photography from its onset has been subjected to modifications. In 1839, the Frenchman Louis-Jacques Daguerre patented the daguerreotype, or what could be called the first "picture." Simply explained, the daguerreotype combined the usage of the camera obscura and silver iodide to produce a permanent image on a copper plate. A very exciting innovation, Daguerre boasted of it, "With this technique, without any knowledge of chemistry or physics, one will be able to make in a few minutes the most detailed views" ("Photography"). Almost immediately, the daguerreotype, especially daguerreotype portraits, became immensely popular. Its popularity, of course, can be attributed to its novelty, but also because people believed the daguerreotype produced a more real image than a painting. The general attitude toward the daguerreotype was that it could create images more realistically because there was no artist to interpret and modify it in his own style.
Opponents of Digital Manipulation insist Photography should always represent the truth, asserting Photography's first and foremost function is to portray reality. Many assume that photographs have never been manipulated, and that this recent outbreak in digital technology damages the integrity of photography. Without delay, anti-manipulation proponents demanded an end to all "dishonest" photography, as it severely misleads the public. Also, they view digital manipulation as a purely mechanical process, with no talent or skill involved. Furthermore, anti-manipulation proponents fear manipulated photos might acquit murderers or rapists in courts of law. The thought that photography had replaced painting abounded. "As if photography needed to absolve itself from its original sin--of having brought about the death of painting", a movement known as pictorialism thrived around 1890-1914, the Art Nouveau period. Proponents of pictorialism primarily set out to gain the recognition of photography as an art rather than just a mechanical process. The pictorialists fashioned bizarre and oddly focused images in order to prove photography was indeed a creative art. It was here that such concepts as shading and enhancing during development appeared. Because of these new shadings and angles, it can be said that Art Nouveau saw the dawn of "Photo manipulation." So the manipulation of photography actually began early in the the 20th century.
In 1982 there was outrage over the manipulation of the Great Pyramids on the cover of National Geographic but the Genie was out of the bottle. There was no going back. In the 1990s Computer programs like Adobe Photoshop began to be available to the general public. Now, even someone with little or no talent could produce delightful works. On the other hand, sensitive artists could produce masterpieces on a scale undreamed of. It seems clear that using this technology to willfully falsify photographs for slanderous, scandalous, or persuasive ends is morally wrong, but what about using it to create obvious unreality that looks real or Fantastical Realism in art as in pictures of fairies or mythic creatures?
What is realism? Realism in Art and literature has always meant that the artist attempts to represent persons, scenes, things, and facts as they are, life as it is. The word is used in many senses- as opposed to romanticism, to conventionalism, to sentimentalism, to idealism and to imaginative treatment. Sometimes it is a term of praise, and sometimes it is a term of derision. During the 19th and 20th centuries the use of the word realism often implied that the details brought out were of an unpleasant, sordid, obscene, or generally offensive character. Even the greatest illustrators of the day were ridiculed. Realism is commonly applied to a 19th century school of writers and artists; but realism, in it's prime and proper sense, is as old as art and literature themselves, but in the hands of it's most notorious exponents, it quickly degenerated into a connotation of the more sinister features of realism.
Many 20th century contemporary realists and artists working in the Photo Realism style were trained in an educational system openly hostile or dismissive to Classical realism and art tradition and were only taught the tenets of Abstraction and Expressionism. As a result many of these artists are more akin to the abstract and expressionist schools than the "Classical Realism" of the ancient Greeks, which adored beauty and nature. Contemporary Realism does not embrace the math and design of the Classical school but does not frown on beauty. Photo Realism only strives to look as much like a photograph as possible and sometimes the results are shocking or disturbing. Other times they are mundane and so ordinary as to be boring. They often deliberately decline to select subjects from the natural, beautiful, and harmonious and more especially, depict ugly things and bring out details of an unsavory sort for social and political purposes. The real mission of Photo-realism is not to record everyday life like a Norman Rockwell painting, but to expose the unconscious way we look at and accept photographs.
By the 20th century realism had spread to nearly all nations- realistic elements combined with those of Impressionism, Symbolism, and other movements. Fantastic Realism on the other hand, is born of these movements and tied to them in style and technique, but prefers to explore subjects that are strange or strikingly unusual rather than scenes of everyday life or objects. It is often bizarre in form, conception and appearance and even wondrous in its beauty. Sometimes macabre and grotesque, it is rarely boring like the other forms of Realism in visual art so often are. Fantastic Realism can be completely apart from reality, yet appearing to be quite real. It is versatile in that it can combine with or be a part of the Classical, Contemporary or Photo-realistic schools or stand as a style unique unto itself. I combine elements from all of these schools of Realism and then take it a step further by also combining a wide variety of media from traditional oil paintings to today's cutting edge digital media in my exhibits. Naturally, the darker side human nature shows itself again with condemnation of new schools of expression, and new art media and technology. Like the photographers before them, digital artists wanted the recognition of their work as an art rather than just a mechanical process. Unlike the snapshot camera or an abstract painting, a trained chimp or orangutan cannot do it: it takes the same visionary and eye to hand skills as any traditional art media to do it well.
Since the times of the ancient Greeks, Art History records a relentless quest for Realism and artistic excellence. The masters of each generation strove to perfect their craft, then passed on the torch of their accumulated knowledge and skill to the next generation.
The accomplishments and technological breakthroughs of one generation have often set new standards of excellence for the next.
~ Howard David Johnson MMIV
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