Innovation, Substance, Vision – The Future of Art Conference in Art in NY, 2003

On October 6th, 2003, The Foundation for the Advancement of Art presented Innovation, Substance, Vision–The Future of Art at The Pierre Hotel in New York City. With a panel of philosophers, artists, and scientists, the conference addressed the importance and future of art.

The international audience included major figures from the worlds of art and commerce including Stephen Farthing from the New York Academy of Art, Jennifer Thompson from MASS MoCA, and Lee Minaidis from the Organization of the World Heritage Cities.

Also in the audience were Louis Torres, co-author of What Art Is,  Marsha Enright, founder of the College of the United States, and Lindsay Perigo, the founding member of New Zealand’s Libertarianz party.
List of Lectures and Speakers:

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Michael Newberry addresses the international audience at New York’s Pierre Hotel.

Innovation in Art by Michael Newberry, artist and Director of the Foundation.

Michael Newberry: Director of the Foundation, a leading critic and an artist who expresses the human ideal through unique light and color schemes.

“Innovation is the key to positive change. Innovation is the bridge between an artists’ knowledge of earlier discoveries and the zenith of their imaginations.”

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Stephen Hicks     From Modern to Postmodern Art by Dr. Stephen Hicks, philosopher.

Dr. Stephen Hicks: Leading philosopher with wide-ranging insights from Postmodernism and Intellectual History. Dr. Hicks outlined the spiraling descent of postmodern art and argued that we must “look at the world afresh.”

“By the turn of the twentieth century, the nineteenth-century intellectual world’s sense of disquiet had become a full-blown anxiety. The artists responded, exploring in their works the implications of a world in which reason, order, certainty, dignity, beauty, and optimism seemed to have disappeared.”

“The world of postmodern art is a run-down hall of mirrors reflecting tiredly some innovations introduced a century ago. It is time to move on.”

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Jan Koenderink     Science and Art in the 21st Century by Dr. Jan Koenderink, vision scientist.

Dr. Jan Koenderink: One of the most influential scholars working in the field of human vision. Dr. Koenderink voiced his challenge to the future for integrating art and science and the importance of examining human perception:

“Since World War I science and art, indeed society as a whole, have gone through dramatic metamorphoses, leading to a loosening of bonds with the past and a loss of identity.”

“Popular science “purports to deal with cosmology, the subatomic realm, quantum theory, brain scanning… [these] topics are so remote as to be effectively irrelevant to any phenomena of daily life. A sane person would conclude that the sciences have nothing to say on what is important in a person’s life. If the art of our times reflects [this]…then it should be fully remote from your daily life’s visions. A blank canvas, a random pattern, or a nonsensical representation, would be totally appropriate…Such a perspective is manifestly wrong.”

“In contrast to the above there are the novel sciences which take a “holistic and non-nominalistic approach”, and “focus[es] on the phenomena at the human level. One consequence of this is a renewed interest in visualization and in artistic production, primarily towards representational art.”

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Martine Vaugel     Survivor, Worshiper, Fool by Martine Vaugel, sculptor.

Martine Vaugel: “Passionist” sculptor who has pushed the boundaries of expression in figurative sculpture for decades through her innovative methodologies.

“I believe in leaving my work for future generations to understand what it was to be a woman born in 1950, a woman of the twentieth century. And, that is what I will leave to the future, and that is whom I work for.”

“It is the truth of the art of the past added to our personal innovation and perspective that creates the art of the future.”

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David Kelley     Art and Ideals by Dr. David Kelley, philosopher.

Dr. David Kelley: Writer and intellectual on philosophical issues from human perception and reason to the furthest applications of ethics and politics.

“…the enormous hunger for the experience of ideals has had to be satisfied with popular film, music, and fiction, with their simple and often sentimental templates of courage in battle and love everlasting…Our ideals need and deserve the skill of fine artists. We need the excitement of artistic innovation, the experience of ideals rendered powerfully and insightfully.”

”Cynics may scoff at those who speak of ideals, but I think it is the cynic who is naïve…Life is a constant pursuit of goals, a constant striving for what we conceive as good for us…any such judgment implies a standard of comparison, a benchmark representing the best that is possible.”

“I am not saying that the representation of ideals is the only function of art. But I believe it is a vital function—and one that has been neglected in the past century.”

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The speakers fielding questions during the Question and Answer session.

 

Creating Denouement

Creating Denouement by Michael Newberry

Newberry, Denouement, 1987, oil on linen, 54x78 inches.
Denouement, 1987, oil on linen, 54×78 inches.

Why this painting?

Painting Denouement was a chance to live inside glowing, colorful light and to express through art what love feels like to me.

Influences

Puccini, Polyclitus, Aristophanes, Beethoven, and Michelangelo rock my world. In their time, they were innovators with a love of beauty, humanity, and passion. Their art was a constant source of inspiration.
There were visual influences for Denouement. But most of the epic works were from “brown” painters, classic technique with a limited pallet in which dark things are brown and black hues. The French Impressionists had a fantastic sense of color harmonies in light and shadow. What I had in mind was to take the best of both and integrate them.

But there was no one work from these artists that I could use as a prototype for what I had envisioned, so I had to create a new path.

Rembrandt Danae
Rembrandt Danae
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Velazquez Las Meninas
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Nerdrum
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Dali
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Van Gogh
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Van Gogh
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Monet
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Monet

Concept

In 1984, I began studies on a moment of love shared. The first sketches were drawn from my imagination. In the images, you can see the glow from the light between them.

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Construction

Then I began to develop studies from live models for this composition.

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I modeled for the two left drawings, having rigged a couple of mirrors. All the studies for Denouement were from scratch – no photos.

To create glow, it would be important to backlight the guy. In hindsight, backlit objects are a bitch to draw because it is hard to see the dark stuff.

I began color studies in pastel.

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I didn’t like the gray colors. So I kept drawing pastel studies, changing the light sources, colored objects, and color of the paper.

With these pastels below, the color harmony clicked.

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Composition

I began to evaluate my overall composition: should the man be closer in size to the woman? Should they be closer together – more connected?

Changing the guy from standing to reclining solved both the size and connection problems.
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What turned out to be cool was that his new pose worked great with hers. The two of them now created a diagonal line through the composition, like the flight line of a jet taking off.

Having solved the imaging of the man and woman, the next problem was arranging all the stuff to fit naturally.

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I relied on two-point perspective to get the perspective of the carpet right.

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Each object had to be adjusted to fit the perspective and be the right size.
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Spatial Depth and Transparency, Integrating it All

Having drawn all of the information I needed, there was still the small matter of how all of this information was going to fit together. I needed to create spatial depth of about 20′, every object had to fit naturally in its space, and the overall lighting had to feel like it was from one source.

I needed to develop a theory of integrating the color, light, and space. I discuss this theory in my articles : Transparency: A Key to Spatial Depth in Painting, Part 1 and Part 2. To give you a sense of the problem here is a pastel study of the lamp, and final in the painting. They are quite different. Just transferring it exactly from study to painting doesn’t mean it will fit.

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What do lemon green, green, and cool magenta have in common? Cerulean blue. Her arm rests in a subtle shadow, by using cerulean blue as the common denominator I was able to push the color boundaries and softly place her in the right place. This was the way I saw the colors from life, but understanding the color theory helped bring out those color connections for all the other elements of the painting.

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I hope you enjoyed this presentation.

Newberry, Denouement, 1987, oil on linen, 54x78 inches.

Michael Newberry