Priorities so far askew make it very difficult to discuss art without insulating ourselves in the art community. And it works to some degree, but this is also what makes a lot of modern art arcane. On the flip side are those who would say that art of the 20th century is, at its very best, arcane. And their response is to reestablish, in their minds at least, the world of “traditional art.” This is problematic.
It is creating a world of art made with reference to art. These folks will see a Monet painting, and then not want to realize flowers and light for themselves, but want to realize Monet. Very few have the education it takes to paint like that and, even more of a problem, they do not have the time. Works painted in a world without TV required a mindset without TV. I cannot tell you how many paintings I see that have the look of classical work without the depth. All veneer and no Vermeer. And they spiral into a non-pertinence because they are trying to reject the 20th century. That is their goal.
If someone is going to paint a face as effectively as Velasquez, then it is going to come from some place other than by looking to Velasquez. Even Sargent could not do it consistently. I’ve realized this is a problem everywhere, not just with art. A great example is a hat store that I recently visited. It has, in the windows and along the shelves, all sorts of equipment like hat stretchers, blocks, irons for felting, ribbon, needles, thread—all kinds of things. But the hats are factory made and no one there knows how to use the equipment. You cannot get a hat stretched back out, or a ribbon or sweat replaced.