Painter Kenyon Cox

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Cox, adamantly loyal to the preservation of the “older methods”, set himself in opposition to modern styles. In his 1917 book Concerning Painting: Considerations Theoretical and Historical, Cox restated his earlier feelings about the “Two Ways of Painting” saying:

For at least fourteen thousand years, then, from the time of the cavemen to our own day, painting has been an imitative art, and it seems likely that it will continue to be so. That it should, within a few years, entirely reverse its current, and should flow in the opposite direction for thousands of years to come seems highly improbable, not to say incredible. Yet we are gravely told that it is about to do this; that, at the hands of its representative element, reached its final and definite form, and that no further changes are possible. Henceforth, as long as men live in the world they are to be satisfied with a non-representative art — an art fundamentally different from that which they have known and practiced and enjoyed.[8]

Kenyon Cox, Portrait of Louise Howland King Cox, 1892. Kenyon Cox wrote his mother, "Long before I felt the thrill of love, I knew that she would make the best wife in the world for me if I should love her . . . When love came to add to the friendship and confidence, I felt safe and so we mean to marry as soon as we can." Wikipedia
Kenyon Cox, Portrait of Louise Howland King Cox, 1892. Kenyon Cox wrote his mother, “Long before I felt the thrill of love, I knew that she would make the best wife in the world for me if I should love her . . . When love came to add to the friendship and confidence, I felt safe and so we mean to marry as soon as we can.” Wikipedia

3 thoughts on “Painter Kenyon Cox

  1. I think representational art and non-representational are both have value. Certainly, some functions of representational painting have legitimately been replace by photography, video, etc. But painting realistic pictures can still me a moving and vital experience for both the painter and the viewer.

    That being said, I’ve seen some wonderful abstract pieces, too.

    So, yeah, I guess I like having my cake and eating it, too.

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    • Yes, not all abstract art is bad.

      As modern art got more abstract and weird you really had to be in the know about what the artist was feeling or thinking. For most average people that’s off putting. To me the art should speak for itself. I was just reading about John Singer Sargent’s portraiture. The author compared his early portraits of the rich to later ones and he commented that you could almost feel Sargent’s boredom setting in as time went by–no words necessary.

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      • True. When I studied ancient Greek art (before the mature good stuff) I gained a real appreciation for it only after understanding the culture and its stories.

        Deconstructionism opened the door to so many fraudulent works of art, but as you say some brilliant works still come along now and again. The modern problem too is that personality is far more important than brilliance (and actually brilliance is looked down upon in many circles). This goes back to the unfairness of beauty and talent. In our culture people are obsessed with feeling special so brilliance is a reminder of that fiction we like to imagine about ourselves.

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