The Middle Ground

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“A great artist is always before his time or behind it.” George Edward Moore (from Brainyquote)

Are most artists before the times or behind the times? Many art schools push students to explore new avenues, try new and different ways of creating art. Or they push students to seek new and different ways to say what’s been said before. Artists are striving to keep moving either backwards or forwards. No matter which way an artist is moving, the point is to keep moving.

Suppose an artist is fascinated with a particular time or place in history but currently most other artists are working to break new ground, make new history. Going backwards is one way of separating from the pack. The artist going backwards may break new ground, as well. A subject may be explored in ways it hasn’t been explored before. An artist may choose to paint in the style of previous artists but with a modern twist. Or perhaps, an artist is drawn to paint today exactly as it was done in past eras, recreating that style for the modern audience.

Artists seeking to break new ground can be moving fast toward new goals, doing new things. Artists behind the times are moving fast in the other direction. Art lovers of both directions are close on the heels of the artists. What of the people in the middle? They are standing still, not moving in either direction, stuck in their ways.

Whether an artist is ahead of the times, or behind the times, is a good thing. To live in the middle is to stagnate. Celebrate either direction. Just stay out of the middle ground mud or you may get stuck.

Photo by Sacha Goldberger. See more of his Rembrandt inspired photography here and here.

6 responses to “The Middle Ground”

  1. Revisiting the past in art can also lead to rediscoveries of things that were lost. For example, artists in the past used mediums that are rarely touched by artists today, or pigments that were replaced, but not matched, by modern alternatives. Either one of which can lead to results that are difficult if not impossible to exactly reach with currently popular materials and techniques. 🙂

    1. Yes!! It’s great when artists do that so we can learn about old ways.

  2. But which is better: ahead or behind?

    1. Probably depends on what you do with which direction you go.

  3. It just seems to me that you paint what comes from your own heart and vision, and no-one else’s.

    1. Absolutely! You’ll never get stuck if you follow your heart!

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