Aug 062018

The word imagination shimmers in the mind along with ‘inspiration’ on a higher level than invention, construction or observation. In the Renaissance and earlier consciousness the true artists were the poets. Painters and sculptors suffered under the lesser designation as artisans/craftsmen. Unrecognised as artists because they were simple copyists, therefore without imagination. Vasari and his artist subjects worked hard to change this by equating their efforts with the imagination of the poet. Thanks to their efforts the visual arts now seem to top the charts as far as prices paid for our products are concerned. But there is a down side.

In the arts the word has come to mean working without reference to nature. So the expectation of imagination from the visual arts has inadvertently come to mean fantasy: to out-weigh observation. Whereas what we have actually admired in the past is the vivid observation of nature in which imagination enters as much and as little as in daily life. The patches of light that come to our retina have to be interpreted by the brain, that can only be an act of imagination because they are recognised usually in spite of inadequate data certainly not by perfect matching.

Every act of recognition requires memories and imagination. When I look at the chair beside my bed I see patches of dark brown and lighter brown light. The colour relationships remind me of corduroy and my memory of casting aside my trousers allows me to recognise the patches of light as my trousers but there is no evidence in the shapes I see that these are indeed trousers. It is the memory of light on corduroy that has given the clue to my deduction. Every act of recognition could be described as a discovery because we need imagination for the simplest acts that allow us to find our way in the world. Imagination is not rare it is an everyday necessity.

When Copernicus discovered that the earth was circling the sun he was using his imagination to see the orbits from outer space. That discovery has shaken the world so badly that had he advertised it he would probably have been burnt at the stake. There is a qualitative and a quantitative difference between my finding of my trousers and Copernicus’ vision based on data that was thousands of years old but not recognised. His was the greatest leap of the imagination made by Man. It has reduced our status from the centre of the universe to a tiny speck in a probable multiverse. The human imagination has grown in status based on Copernicus and his like but it is sensible to regard it also as normal and everyday. We need to distinguish between the low flights of recognition and the high flights of imagination.

The significance of a discovery needs to be the measure of its importance. We need to take some of the unreasoned shine from the word. Imagination can be vastly important or everyday insignificant. I fear that art historians have been over impressed by Vasari’s arguments and have illogically reasoned that as Rembrandt is undoubtedly exceptional he must therefore have worked from imagination. Alas. this is hopelessly wide of the mark. Yes, Rembrandt possessed a wonderful imaginative empathy with his subjects but to realize feelings he needed to observed them in reality. The scholars have imposed on a master of huge importance, one who consistently claimed to work from observation “anything else was worthless in his eyes”- a method of work that does not fit at all. To make him fit his new work description scholars have had to discard more than half his genuine works. When Rembrandt is obliged to work by construction, with flying angels for instance, he makes sure that we do not take him seriously; he adopts a looser style (Link to flying angels)

It is indeed surprising that so many scholars have subscribed to the absurd idea of his imaginative construction for so long in the face of so much contrary evidence, and while doing immeasurable harm to our understanding of the master. My article on Rembrandt’s use of mirrors (Burlington Feb.1977) should have dispelled any remaining doubts about the unanimous testimony of Rembrandt’s contemporaries in this respect. Changing entrenched beliefs requires much patience – as Max Plank observed “science advances funeral by funeral”. The damage to Rembrandt and therefore to art continues unabated. At Harvard the only time we came near to debating the issue – I would claim to have won hands down but clearly the scholars took a different view because they have brushed aside my evidence as if it did not exist. There is no evidence for their view other than the fact that many scholars have accepted it unquestioningly for nearly a century! All the evidence favours my interpretation.

Jan 042014

Many of us feel the need to make things. As a sculptor I am something of an addict. I certainly exhibit withdrawal symptoms after a few days without this addiction. It is sad that machinery has speeded and perfected so much hand work that mankind has become very short of these soul soothing activities.
Cookery, music, dance, gardening and art have to stand in for  all those useful crafts that we once did but are now done elsewhere or mechanically. Only thirty years ago there were little workshops in every village in Italy making shoes , garments, even hand made cars, most of them have disappeared leaving only the disappointed traces in creative humans with no outlet. This lack of opportunity will have to be addressed as western culture falls apart. Passive entertainment is no substitute.

Art has been recognized as a useful therapy and I am the last to wish to cut off this safety valve. The democratization of art has undoubtedly contributed to the sum total of human happiness. But it has had the negative effect of reducing our expectations from a work of art. It comes as no surprise that the average time spent looking at a work of art is now 20 seconds. I have often spent less time myself. Art has become a private matter.  Abstract art does not lead to the sharing of vision in the way observed art used to do.

Artists in their great moments have been the helmsmen guiding human perception; they spend their lives looking and comparing what they make with what they see in nature. But their tentative perceptions have been drowned out by the loud-speakers of a mass-media, entirely subservient to a fashion for art so meaningless that it requires no response or study.

We need an elitist art again based on observation to keep the pathways to perception from being lost. There are very positive signs that the human race is very much less responsive to its own body language than it used to be. The long running demotion of Rembrandt’s vision by the “experts” is an outstanding symptom of this disorder. It could prove fatal to humanity in the long run.

Jun 302013

‘Global warming’, is a grotesque understatement of the speed at which we approach distruction. It suggests we will be 2 or 3 degrees warmer and suffer a few inconvenient storms. The temperature on Venus is 900 degrees because the greenhouse gases insulate her so well that only little of the sun’s heat can escape.

We are adding to the greenhouse gases of this planet very rapidly.
There comes a ‘tipping-point’ at which the gases trapped in the Earth crust start to bubble out, from which point there is no imaginable return. Life on Earth will be extinguished and we are on our way to Venus.


Dec 132012

I finally received the answer to my letter to the Getty. (see below) It did not surprise me. I have been receiving such refusal from art historians to discuss since I made my Rembrandt discoveries in 1974. The first was from Christopher White, who was then in charge of Rembrandt’s drawings at the British Museum. (He had written a good book on the etchings.) He did not commit himself in writing but after sitting on my first article for over a month he told his colleague, who had assisted me in composing the article, “that it would be very important if Konstam could prove it.” To a scientific mind it was proven then; as far as is possible to prove anything of this nature.

The Burlington Magazine refused my article until E.H.Gombrich called a governors’ meeting at which it was suggested that he should help me re-write it, which he did. The article was then accepted by Benedict Nicholson the editor, who wrote “I find it of the greatest possible interest and so I am sure will Rembrandt scholars, who must now get down to revising the corpus of  drawings.” The appalling revision that has taken place since then has been in the opposite direction to that I proposed.

Pieter Schatborn (recently of the Rijksmuseum) who master-minded the Getty show, translated my second artictle into Dutch. It was printed in Rembrandthuiskroniek (1978) but he has taken no notice of its contents since. I spent an evening with him in his flat taking him through the contents of the book on Rembrandt that I was preparing. He was unable to produce any counter arguments.

My agents informed me that Phaidon had accepted my book “with the whole editorial board behind me” knowing how controversial it was. They only awaited a reader’s report. When it came it was so damning Phaidon dropped the project and ran. On first reading I was shaken myself but on looking into the report I realized it was nothing more than a  cunningly concocted swindle. Thirty years later I am still looking for a brave enough publisher.

After a perfectly reasonable exchange of letters with Martin Royalton Kisch, who had succeeded White at the British Museum, he gave me a hefty thumbs down in his catalogue of Rembrandt Drawings (having entirely ‘misread’ my analysis of two drawings of Rembrandt’s first mistress). I countered with three newspapers (The Save Rembrandt Campaigner) and a showing at St Martin’s in the Fields, to try to get my viewpoint heard at the time of the theoretical debate 1991 “Rembrandt and his Workshop”.

The National Gallery (London) actually took the microphone from me (on the orders of Christopher Brown, then keeper of Dutch paintings there) because I asked to show three slides which would have put an end to their novel and destructive viewpoint. The educated public having suffered from the teachings of The Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) since 1969,  can probably no longer remember the greater Rembrandt. (The RRP and their followers in the departments of drawings have reduced the accepted Rembrandt works by over 50% because of their misguided ideals in art.)

When I asked The National Gallery for space to present an alternative view at that time I got an almost identical letter as that from the Getty. The BBC  has refused to take any further interest after they discovered how my view of Rembrandt upsets the establishment. My view happens to be in complete accord with the known opinion of Rembrandt’s contemporaries. Other publishers and broadcasters have followed suit. For further interest I have scanned similar letters from the RRP and from E.Havercamp Begermann (Yale).

I gave a talk at Harvard  in 1978, which fell on deaf ears. I thought the many doctoral students there would go back to their books and see the sense of my view. Alas, many of that large audience will have been teaching the standard guff  on Rembrandt ever since. The guff is absurdly complicated, Rembrandt is easy to understand if you get the fundamentals right. Rembrandt was the great sign-post for artists saying observe, observe , observe “anything else was worthless in his eyes”.

This controversy between Rembrandt the observer and Rembrandt the inventor, has been successfully swept under the rug  since 1974. Though I have had a few successes at the Wallace Collection and recently The National Gallery where Rembrandt’s  “The Adoration of the Shepherds” rejected by RRP has now been replaced as a Rembrandt, where it belongs. (see YouTube for Konstam saying yes it is, and the National Gallery saying no, it isnt.)

It is difficult to escape thinking that art historians perhaps resent the intrusion of an artist into their private kingdom. Art History belongs to artists and the public at large, we need to get it straight. Look at what has happened to painting since the down-grading of Rembrandt. This is our culture in headlong decay!

I have made several similarly important discoveries in the field of art history and archaeology which have been similarly neglected. Best known is the role of life-casting in ancient Greek sculpture, which featured in the film Athens II as well as the Oxford Journal of Archaeology. The full story can be found in the second edition of my book Sculpture, the Art and the Practice.

Dec 132012

Copy of Reddit Article

The brain of Man has undergone a transformation since we painted the caves.  “In the beginning was the word” the invention of speech was the beginning of that transformation. Speech, number, geometry and mechanics are the chief abstract categories that rule and blinker our perception of the world. They are so useful that they have all but obliterated the rich variety of messages that our animal senses bring us.

It was the chief task of the visual arts to re-examine and extend the interface between the abstract quality of our mindset and the rich variety of the world out there. Traditional artists working from nature and humans soon become aware of  how inadequate are our mental images. We know we are burdened with a brain that wants to reduce the world to abstractions. The process of observation brings our abstracting mindset to confront the actual. Each search for understanding
developed  by an artist becomes in itself “form”.

The word ‘form’ is generally used to  mean three dimensional shape. In art it has another set of  meanings. It is also used to mean that which is formalized, or form in the sense of “sonnet form”: a mould into which any number of ideas or feelings can be poured. It can mean manners in the sense of “good form”; manner in the sense of the “Classical manner” which is derived from classical Greek sculpture. It  has a structural meaning in the coordination of parts to make a meaningful whole. “Form” can be used to describe a number of conceptual schemes, it is not just meat.

In fact the recognition of form was the chief aim of an education in art. Form is an amalgam of all these ideas and has come to mean that emphasis that comes about from an artist’s interpretation of nature: the aspects the artist particularly wants us to see as important.

Traditional art attempts “to hold a mirror up to nature”. Since the invention of photography this activity has become less rewarding because the camera does this so well. But there is another aspect to the best traditional art which we could describe as the mental digestion of nature; art can be the interface between our habitually abstracting mind and the richness of nature. Art stretches the mind to comprehend more. Around 1904 Art became more conscious of form but recently unconscious.

An art rooted in tradition has the huge advantage of being able to strikes chords in the mind and evoke emotion because of it’s relation to a depth of human experience, recorded and evolving through history. It is our cultural inheritance. The evolution of art is an important part of our appreciation of the visible. As we moved away from the hunter-gatherer, where awareness was all important, we have come to rely on art to keep our senses alive. Without observed art we lose touch with the wealth of what is out there in the world; we receive it less fully, we become less human.

Music and poetry have forms also. In a recent review, a poet was praised for her “impressive formal range… an England rooted in Nature of Chaucer, Shakespeare,Wordsworth and John Clare.” Though I have no ear for poetry I understand what this means because it is similar to visual form, and refers to that cultural inheritance as above.

For instance, in my own experience my love of Rembrandt’s drawings was considerably deepened by visiting a show of Giacometti’s drawings. Giacometti had consciously or unconsciously used space clues similar to Rembrandt’s, his primary focus is on space. Rembrandt, like most draughtsmen, mainly focuses on the solid figures but it is the space between the figures that makes them so meaningful. In my view it is crucial to understand this aspect of Rembrandt’s form. The scholars’ study of style (the mere marks he made) has led the “experts” very far from the Rembrandt recorded by his contemporaries; he has been much diminished by recent scholarship and his philosophy: the primary importance of original observation, has been turned upside down.

Two main lines of development in the form of western art can be seen. That derived from the Greek sculpture is easily recognised in the lay figure which was present in every academic studio. It is epitomized by the work of Raphael but was generally used during the Italian Renaissance and in academic art since.

The Roman is derived from the survey techniques that Roman sculptors used for transferring their work into the permanent medium of stone. It is based on solid geometry as a pattern to compare with nature. The Roman needs to be distinguished from the Greek because it operates with a different syntax. The Roman is more analytical and therefore better adapted to sharpening observation. Each artist gives the tradition  a nudge in the direction of their own personal philosophy. Rembrandt used Roman form when he observed; and Greek on those rare occasions when he had to invent: his flying angels for example.

I have made a short film to explain the high points in the development of form with appropriate images (URL). I regard Rembrandt as the greatest humanist draftsman because he realized that the space between two people expresses as much or more than their individual gestures or facial expressions. He developed the Roman form to incorporate space as well as solid.

My rediscovery that Rembrandt deployed groups of live models so as to find the maximum expression and then drew observing the space with the same attention as the solid bodies is contrary to the modern belief among art historians. They refuse to abandon their mistaken belief that imagination is superior to observation in art. Imagination as commonly understood means drawing out of ones head, often no more than construction by formula. Rembrandt understood that the intimate, meaningful space between two figures cannot be constructed, it is too subtle. It has to be observed. This is the secret of his psychological and dramatic gift.

The teaching of form goes through periods of development and decay. Sadly ours is a period of such decay that many young artists have missed ‘form’ in this special sense in their artistic education. They are deprived of that sense of brotherhood with former artists that sustains and supports a living tradition. As a consequence we are losing contact with nature and with the great tradition of seeing as exemplified by recent Rembrandt scholarship. Art matters!

Note. The word form was crucial to artistic discussion before Wolfflin moved the goal posts with his book “The Principles of Art Hisrtory”(1915). He had no conception of the artistic use of the word form.

Nov 162012

I am so pleased to have found this website, so full of mavericks like myself. I am a sculptor, nearly 80 years old. I would like to tell you my experience. I may be one of the last generation to receive a training in the observation of form: that illusive abstraction that can help us to understand what is going on out there in the world.

To see form was the whole point of our education and had been for the previous three millennia. Novelty as such, was not part of our ambition; we hoped to give the world new vision, or at least a new emphasis, by adjusting the tradition in some significant way. I looked to Brancusi and Giacometti as examples in this. Through Giacometti I came to see Rembrandt more clearly. This concept of working within a tradition seems to have been lost.

I was a part of the majority of my fellow students in regarding Rembrandt as the one great master who spoke to us directly: the master of form that expressed the movement of the human spirit in the physical world more clearly than any other. He was also number one on the charts of market-value. How radically things have changed since then. (He no longer appears among the top 30 in the charts.)

Art History was taught by the same bright artists who taught in the studios. We saw art as the interface between nature (the model who stood there all day) and the inadequate abstract quality of our own minds grappling to understand nature. The study of art history seemed to confirm that the high points of civilization were those that came to a new understanding of the visible world. We saw the progress towards that understanding as slow and intermittent. There were long periods of decay interrupted by short bursts of brilliant artistic activity such as the Italian Renaissance. The best periods seemed to go hand in hand with a break-through in scientific thought.

The perspective I gained from my education at Camberwell Art School has lasted a life time. I see myself as adding my own small morsel to the sum total of human understanding of the world. My enthusiasm has not waned but my perspective has divided me from the main-stream of art today.

It seems to me that the ‘art promotion machine’ has multiplied in size and power, due to the recent technological advance of colour television and printing, to a point where the artists themselves are no longer in charge. The machine has taken over! Tom Wolfe complained of the same critic-led art in “The Painted Word”. We have recently seen how over €21 million was paid for a painting whose informal design would hardly have raised an admiring eyebrow if seen on a rug 30 years ago. Art is about values, what will future generations think of ours? Our visual culture has sunk to a level unimaginable, since “The Painted Word”. We need a revolution in the way art is run and art history is taught. Art historians desperately need 80% input from artists.

The art promotion machine is largely manned by those trained in art history, they are aided and abetted by dealers, ad-men and critics. The machine makes a great deal of money, in which only a tiny fraction of  working artists take a small share. Over the last decade “The Jackdaw” magazine has been exposing truly amazing abuses in the way public art money is handed out in the UK.

The machine has sold us the idea of the avant-guard. We are invited to view it as the evolutionary “cutting edge” in art. But evolution normally relies on chaotic variety which is then selected by the forces of nature for survival or not. The variety exists in art today but the machine has taken upon itself the selection process and jealously guards the power that it gives. Artists or the public do not get a look in. Most will look at the art that has been promoted over the last 50 years with little enthusiasm. There exists an alternative to establishment art but you will not find it in the media or museums of modern art. The machine will not allow the competition that real evolution requires. The machine rules!

With the help of Sir Ernst Gombrich I published my discovery of Rembrandt’s use of mirrors (Burlington Magazine Feb.1977).  If heeded that discovery would simplify Rembrandt studies by demolishing most of the Rembrandt scholarship of the last 100 years. It would make a huge difference to his standing today. Modern scholars believe in only 500 drawings by Rembrandt, Otto Benesch’s Catalogue of 1957 published nearly 1400, I believe there are over 2,000 drawings by Rembrandt extant. This is backed by evidence that would be accepted in scientific circles but it is neglected or refuted by art scholarship. You will find my many criticisms on the internet. Please comment if you visit.

Further examples of the errors of art history are outlined below. For a fuller education come to my Research Centre for the True History of Art at Casole d’Elsa, near Siena, Italy. Courses are offered at The Verrocchio Arts Centre.

The following videos by Nigel Konstam came be found at

1. Nigel speaks to the BBC about his Rembrandt discovery in 1976

2. The two versions of “The Adoration of the Shepherds”, are both by Rembrandt

3. An obvious fake praised by Rembrandt scholars

4. Many brilliant Rembrandt drawings falsely attributed to Ferdinand Bol

5. A Canonical Rembrandt drawing of his mistress recently de-attributed

6. Verrocchio’s sense of structure

7. Vermeer’s method with 2 mirror + the camera obscura (3 parts)

8. Brunelleschi’s method of arriving at a scientific perspective

In preparation -

Life Casting and Bronze casting in ancient Greece

The two traditions of form in Europe

I have scored  a palpable hit recently: I am happy to report that the authorities at The National Gallery (London)  have returned their painting of “The Adoration of the Shepherds” to it’s rightful place among the Rembrandts. If you visit the two sites on YouTube dealing with that painting you will find a lady from the National Gallery explaining why their picture is not a Rembrandt and myself (Nigel Konstam) explaining why it must be a Rembrandt.

Jul 252011

An edited excerpt from something I wrote in 1971 (Leonardo vol.4)

I have clung to the figure because I find in it a model of great complexity with a wide variety of jointing, scale and mass, and one with which we are all familiar. We not only know what it looks like from the outside: we know what it feels like from the inside. The slightest deviation form the expected norm is noted and questioned. Every human eye is attuned to the figure more precisely than even the educated eye is attuned to mathematical proportions. When one adds to this the geometric, architectural and rhythmic associations that have accumulated around the figure during its long evolution, it become clear that there is a widely available basis for understanding the purely formal meaning of figurative sculpture, which I find lacking in non figurative work. Figurative art is capable of dealing with human emotions in a simple and direct way.

One of the tragic side affects of non figurative art, in my view, has fallen upon art education. We are producing art students who have little or no interest in the art of the past, thus destroying the communion of artists: that sense of partaking in a timeless communion certainly gives me a sense of well being. Indeed, it seem to me to be the only certain reward for the serious study of art. Moreover, I am convinced that the sense of belonging to a privileged circle with access to inner meanings is an important ingredient of the aesthetic experience. If my view is right, estrangement form the past is surely too greater price to pay for the understandable dissatisfaction with the old academies of art.

Communication in art, as in everything else, must be based on a collection of symbols that are commonly understood. I realise that new forms sometimes have to be invented to express genuinely new experiences. However, the huge transformations in art that have taken place in the last fifty years have all but disintegrated the slowly evolving complex of commonly understood visual symbols. More important, does not the effort of making language describe our experiences force us to re-examine and refine the experiences ourselves? Surely only when the present language proves inadequate for our expression can we allow ourselves the indulgence of linguistic invention. To me a newly invented ‘form’ is simply a novelty. Originality must contain a new insight which may or may not need a new ‘form’ for its expression.

Apr 082010

I apologize for not answering my critics sooner, I have only just become aware of them. Allow me to explain my point of view more fully on Serota.

Our way of life is changing more rapidly than ever before. Art has to change as life changes. But the white-hot revolution which Harold Wilson (once Prime Minister) foresaw as a great leap forward in opportunities for leisure has in fact put a great deal more stress into human existence; life has speeded up rather than slowed down. Advances in medicine have certainly prolonged life expectancy with the result that the care of the aged now requires far more expense than the pension funds can stand, so pensionable age has to go up. The world population explosion is upon us much sooner than Malthus foresaw. The human population is overwhelming all other species and the planet’s ecology. Climate change etc. etc.

I mention these very real challenges to point out that it is not that easy to predict the future. Yet in art we have allowed Serota with no particular qualifications to dictate the course of art. His “challenging art” does not remotely correspond to life’s challenges as I see them. On the contrary his “cutting edge” is an absurd diversion from what we should be focusing upon.

I see art as an education in seeing what is out there. The more one observes the more one becomes aware of the mental obstacles to seeing. Our survival as a species depends more on the sense of sight than on any other. Serota and his team live in a world of fantasy that does not amuse, it frightens me.

He is a great propagandist but then so were the Nazis, who proclaimed that if you are going to lie, make it a big one. Serota has learnt that lesson well. (see The Jackdaw). He has initiated the most disgraceful episode in the history of art, anywhere. I want to stop him in his tracks. Unfortunately there are a lot of people making a lot of money temporarily out of this financial bubble, so instead of seeing the disgrace, the art establishment is considered a success!

New Humanism” is my answer to what has gone wrong with art. I respect the Stickists for what they have done to bring about change but I long for a different direction of change, one in which observation figures big again.

Feb 062010

Just the other day 65 million pounds ($104.3 million) was paid for one copy of an edition of 6 bronzes of Giacometti’s “Walking Man”. I feel personally indebted to Giacometti as the one among the mega-buck heroes whose drawings should be venerated by posterity.

But surely in a world that is suffering economically and teetering on the brink of climate catastrophe this “investment” by a bank is a disgrace. It can benefit no living person by reward for work or ideas. It brings nothing new into the world. It simply locks up money that could be spent positively. Investors in art might turn their attention to struggling living artists whose ideas they cherish as of probable benefit to mankind in the future.

I first saw Giacometti’s work at an Arts Council exhibition around 1955. As I wandered round the exhibition I was a bit perplexed by the works but within a week my understanding of Rembrandt’s works took a great leap forward.

Giacometti’s drawings are exclusively about space. His attention is always on what I call the space clues: the section round the forms created by the neck-line, waist-line and drapery passing over the thighs or arms. He defines the air/space by the pattern of chair legs and sculpture-stands across the floor or the pictures on the walls. He did not seem to care about anything else.

Through his concentration on space I came to realize that Rembrandt used the intimate space between his characters. It is this intimate space that is the key, I believe, to the expressive quality in Rembrandt’s work. Previously I had been so enamoured of the solid, sculptural quality I had not noticed that space also speaks.

Because of this important insight I received from Giacometti I will always revere his drawings; I do not really understand what people see in the sculptures. They seem to me far less grand than the Etruscan work on which they are based. “The Walking Man” seems to me particularly feeble.

Dec 082009

The aim of this blog is to create a forum of discussion on the present state of art in Britain. Britain seems to be leading the world in the charge of the Gaderine swine.

I am aware of two forums where resistance to “State Art” is strong: the Stuckists and The Jackdaw. But while I salute the splendid spade and foot work both have done in drawing public attention to the gross dishonesty and self-interest of the present regime at the Tate, I feel there is a great need of a third forum where an alternative evolution can be discussed and eventually put in place.

As a former student at Camberwell (1955-7) I look back on that training as a golden age compared to what is available to art students today. I have been revisiting Roger Fry, his Last Lectures, as I regard him as the grandfather of the particular philosophical ambience that distinguished the Camberwell tradition  in my time. His influence on Coldstream (head of Camberwell before he went on to the Slade) was crucial to that ambience.

Fry’s insistance on the importance of the abstract or architectonic aspect of a work of art was most apposite to the art of 1900 but I feel that the pendullum of fashion has swung so far in that direction that it is high time to give it a good push towards Humanism. Fry could not have foreseen the depths to which this aspect of his doctrine has sunk: I see the present state of art in Britain as a colossal insult to the intelligence of the majority of  us who work or suffer in the dark shadow of the State Art’s massive publicity, so rightly dubbed “Art Bollocks” by The Jackdaw.

Old “Humanism” was the driving force of the Italian Renaissance. It was based on a recognition that Greek art and philosophy had much to teach them about the human condition. I have chosen “New Humanism” as a name in the hope it will bring about a similar renaissance. I mean it to include any art based on observation. The survival of the species depends to a large extent on our ability to see and understand what is going on out there.

Artists tend to be politically naïve or lazy. We have allowed art historians to step in and direct the public face of art, with the result that The Turner Prize, for instance, is only of interest to a favoured few who dominate the public face of art in Britain thereby. I hope this blog will become a forum where alternatives can be intelligently discussed and eventually replace the present horrors. Any ideas?
Please participate and inform your friends.
Yours truly, Nigel Konstam

Mirrors used by
Rembrandt for his two paintings of
The Adoration of the Shepherds

ALSO available is Nigel’s 5 minute film on The School of Adrea Verrocchio – Renaissance Sculptor who “restored worth and value to Florentine art at a time when those qualities were on the point of extinction”.