Ruskin’s Value as a Critic. 1
Ideas of Truth and the Issue of Imitation. 1
Ruskin’s Idea of Relation and Post-Modern Painting. 5
Relation and Truth as a Critical Practice
Ruskin’s unique value as a critic still resonates with painting today due to his devotion to art and his vivacious support of many artists, primarily Turner. Ruskin’s criticism presents a symbiotic relationship between painting and theory, which provides a more progressive approach that contemporary criticism, which often has the two at odds with each. Ruskin’s desire to educate the masses and write for the public gives his criticism a clear and enthusing power.
In a critical sense we can expand on the idea of the flaneur, which can lead the painter to become more than just immersed in the sensory spectacle of life but perhaps the historical and cultural context of the present too. By taking on this role and travelling through paintings own narration one can attain greater variety of knowledge and therefore express their ideas with more Truth.
‘It has become custom to place oneself within the temporal framework of the unstoppable progress of history from which point one can survey the social field: looking forwards and backwards’ (Frank Reijinders 2003, p20). Paintings today can be cultural hybrids composed from various references from the past and the present and these can come together within the subject creating an advanced version of Ruskin’s ‘Relation.’
However, while artists such as Peter Doig, and Carlos Maria Mariani borrow references from various sources and periods there are also possibilities in re-examining ideas by theorists such as Ruskin in a contemporary context. In doing so the painter may find ideas that resonate with them, such as Ruskin’s idea of ‘Relation’. If the artist then mixes these older elements with present theories and expectations they can create new methods of valuing the quality of contemporary painting. In turn these rules provide painters with the ability to push new barriers and begin radicalising the aesthetic in response.