Contemporary Realism: 14th International Virtual Art Renewal Center Salon Exhibition

Contemporary Realism: 14th International Virtual Art Renewal Center Salon Exhibition

Sotheby's presents the 14th International ARC Salon, featuring 'Art and Beauty Behind Fashion' in partnership with Fashion Week San Diego (FWSD)
Sotheby's presents the 14th International ARC Salon, featuring 'Art and Beauty Behind Fashion' in partnership with Fashion Week San Diego (FWSD)

13 – 31 July | Sotheby's New York Online

S otheby's is pleased to present a virtual exhibition of the 14th International ARC Salon Competition, the largest and most prestigious competition in the world for realist artists painting, sculpting and drawing today. The competition is hosted by the Art Renewal Center, a non-profit, educational foundation leading the revival of realism in contemporary art. The competition consists of eleven categories, with thousands of works competing for the top awards; this year, the ARC received over 4,300 entries from 73 countries.

Ninety-nine works from around the globe were chosen for inclusion in the 14th International ARC Salon Exhibition. The show first opened in December 2019 at the European Museum of Modern Art, (MEAM) in Barcelona, Spain – and now, Sotheby's will celebrate the winning artists, and explore the majesty of the 21st Century Representational Art Movement.

This year's Salon also includes a special event: The Art & Beauty Behind Fashion, presented in partnership with Fashion Week San Diego.

An interview with the Art Renewal Center’s (ARC) Co-Chair/ COO Kara Lysandra Ross, with contributions from Frederick C. Ross, ARC Founder / Chairman

What is the most exciting aspect of the 21st Century Representational Art Movement?
Other than the art itself, I would have to say it is the tremendous growth I have witnessed in the past decade. On average, we've seen a 20% growth in entries each year for the past three years. We are expecting to break 5,000 entries [for this year's competition] based on current rate of growth. The movement is world-wide! The ARC Salon received over 4,300 entries last year from 73 countries, spanning six continents. Although we are the largest competition in the world for representational art, I know there are thousands of more artists out there around the world painting in contemporary realism. Today, there are scores of organizations focused on representational art, including magazines, specialized art schools, galleries, artist groups, conferences, podcasters – you name it; but when the ARC was founded in 1999, we were one of just a few organizations with such a mission.

The art itself excites people. When this current, 14th ARC Salon was on view at the Museum of European Modern Art (MEAM), Barcelona, Spain, hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the world attended the opening night; the show was extended two weeks past the previously scheduled end date because it was so highly attended. There are just so many great representational artists out there now creating qualitatively superb art, but with a distinctively contemporary feel.

The 14th ARC Salon on view at the Museum of European Modern Art (MEAM), Barcelona, Spain.
"There are just so many great representational artists out there now creating qualitatively superb art, but with a distinctively contemporary feel."
Kara Lysandra Ross

Why is Representational Art important?
Representational art is a life enriching and life-affirming experience for both artist and viewer. Even when depicting difficult subject matter, like death or abuse, it is an expression of our shared humanity and becomes powerful in this way. People can relate to it and feel compassion, joy or anger. It can inspire hope, or even call one to action. It communicates because it utilizes a universally understood visual language.

Click to watch a video highlighting the importance of the Representational Art Movement, featuring live footage and works from the 14th ARC Salon Exhibition.

The techniques used to create representational works, like those studied and used by the old masters, techniques that had been passed to them, have been transferred from one generation to the next directly from teacher to student – they have been preserved throughout time. This is something humanity can be proud of, not only for the works themselves in museums, but that this knowledge of how to create such works has also been protected. Since the vast majority of the art world in the 20th century moved away from representational art, I am still occasionally asked, “What relevance does representational art have in today’s society?” How can it not have relevance? It is the same as if the person had asked me if written and verbal communication still had relevance. Since the artist is a product of society and the world they live in, everything they do or create is a reflection of that. It is automatically both relevant and contemporary.

"I am still occasionally asked, 'What relevance does representational art have in today’s society?' But how can it not have relevance? It is the same as if the person had asked me if written and verbal communication still had relevance."
Kara Lysandra Ross

21st century Representational Art cannot possibly be mistaken for any other period in fine art, as it is inherently an expression of today’s society, and if there are core elements in these works, like the human figure, or expressions of love or hate that we hold in common, then this only re-enforces that these elements are timeless, which in and of itself has historic significance. For 100 years, artists have been deconstructing works of fine art, creating paintings that are visually flat, throwing paint, or even showing blank canvases. At the time this was new, exciting and shocking, but now, in the 21st century, thousands of artists want to start reconstructing again, reclaiming our universal visual language, and, like great theater, suspending disbelief and expressing it all with beauty, poetry and grace.

Winning artworks featured in the 14th ARC Salon, on exhibition at the Museum of European Modern Art (MEAM), Barcelona, Spain.

Why should collectors start dipping their toes into the representational art market, if they haven’t already?
This market is fast growing and, in many ways, very untapped. Although there are tons of collectors investing in this relatively new movement, the prices on the works in the ARC Salon Exhibition (as well as works through galleries, or from artists directly) are below their intrinsic value, what they should be worth based on the skill and time put into them. This is not even taking into account where the prices are likely to go in the future, once these works reach major sales at prominent auction houses. The movement itself only really started as a trickle in the 1980s (though there were handfuls of artists who continued and preserved the techniques earlier, throughout the 20th century). The movement hit a critical mass within the last ten years and there are now thousands of artists around the world starting to leave their marks. Although there are 21st Century Representational artists who sell their works in the $100,000 range or more, many top-quality works by artists, (famous within the movement), can easily be purchased currently in the $10,000 to $30,000 range.

Pictured here, Hiroshi Furuyoshi's Adelaide was awarded an honorable mention at the 13th ARC Salon. In 2016, the work achieved over $106,000 at auction.

There are some artists who are already making their way to the auction market. Our Best in Show winner from the 2008-2009 competition, Hiroshi Furuyoshi, had his winning work come up for auction at a minor sale in 2010 with an estimate of £5,000 – 7,000 – but It ended up selling for £39,650 GBP ($58,869). Since then, he's had a number of works sell at auction at this level or higher, including his honorable mention in the 13th ARC Salon, “Adelaide”, selling at auction for over $106,000 in 2016, the year he painted it.

"Representational art is one of the primary – and most exciting – directions the art world is now taking."
Kara Lysandra Ross

Many living representational artists have not had works come up at auction yet, since the collectors buying them direct from the artists or galleries have not even tried reselling them in the secondary market – but it’s just a matter of time. Personally, I am 100% confident we will see an enormous surge in prices in this movement in the coming years. It is one of the primary and most exciting directions the art world is now taking. Although just about half of the works in the 14th ARC Salon Exhibition have already found homes and are on loan from private and institutional collections, many of the works in the exhibition are still available for sale. Only 99 works out of the original thousands of works competing get to participate in the actual ARC Salon live exhibition, representing some of the best representational works of art created in the past three years from around the world. All works for sale are clearly marked with pricing in the digital catalog and interested individuals can contact me directly at for purchases and inquiries.

Click to view the digital catalog of all 99 works in the exhibition, embedded with videos of many of the exhibiting artists talking about their work.

Due to Covid-19 you were unable to bring this exhibition live to Sotheby’s NY as planned. Can you tell us a bit about this transition and the content for the virtual version of the ARC Salon you are presenting with us here?
First, on behalf of ARC and the entire representational art community we would like to thank Sotheby’s for working with us to host this virtual salon exhibition. As a 501C3 non-profit educational foundation, The Art Renewal Center is dedicated to bringing artists the best opportunities we can to further their careers and despite not being able to hold the live show, we did not want to let our exhibiting artists or community down. In addition to hosting the ARC Salon Competition, the largest competition in the world for representational art, and being the foremost and only vetting service for representational art schools, the Art Renewal Center hosts the largest online museum dedicated to representational art and includes works by the old masters, 19th century and 21st Century Artists as well as articles, letters and other online resources. The ARC works with other ARC Allied Organizations™, artist groups, museums, galleries and publications to become a central news hub for the 21st Century Representational Art Movement. We did a lot of brainstorming and work in a short amount of time, but we are really proud of what we have produced and, in the end, I feel we are reaching a larger audience. Fortunately, since this was a traveling exhibition, we were able to hold our award ceremony and exhibit at our first venue, European Museum of Modern Art (MEAM) in Barcelona, alongside the winners and finalists of the MEAM’s own representational art competition, Figurativas, this past December, so we do have video footage and photos of the works from when they were on exhibition there that we have incorporated into this virtual event. A large percentage of the participating artists from around the world have recorded videos at their homes and studios about their works which I found to be truly inspiring, and I have personally edited these into short, 30 second to 3-minute films. Although we do already have a book out, “International Realism”, published by ACC Art Books, which is a 520 page book including all 1,500 winning and finalist works of the 14th ARC Salon Competition, we have created a digital catalog specifically for the 99 works in the exhibition. Works for sale are clearly marked. We have included statements by each artist about their work and have incorporated the videos directly into the digital catalog to make it a very interactive experience. In addition, we have created a virtual walk-through space of the show, presented in three rooms, so visitors can move around a virtual space to see a curated show. The works clearly feel smaller on the walls of the walk-through space then they feel in person. Nothing can fully substitute for the experience of standing in front of the actual paintings, drawings and sculptures, but it provides an additional interactive way to view the exhibition. We are also right now in the middle of accepting entries to the 15th ARC Salon Competition and will continue to do so through August 14th, so we encourage any interested individuals to check out the prospectus. We hope everyone enjoys the show! ◙

The 14th ARC Salon on view at the Museum of European Modern Art (MEAM), Barcelona, Spain.

Salon Highlights

C lick the slideshow below to view some of the award-winning artworks of the 14th International ARC Salon.

Virtual Salon Walkthrough

W elcome to the Art Renewal Center’s virtual gallery space for the 14th ARC Salon Exhibition – click the image below to enter the virtual walkthrough experience, and view the artworks in the round.

The Art & Beauty Behind Fashion

W e are thrilled to present our virtual version of “The Art & Beauty Behind Fashion” in partnership with Fashion Week San Diego (FWSD). After the first successful event at FWSD in San Diego in October, 2018, in connection to the 13th ARC Salon, we decided we wanted to bring this event to New York while the ARC Salon Exhibition as a whole was on view. As part of the exhibition, FWSD designers created amazing, original couture outfits and looks inspired by eight works of art from the ARC Salon, which we are presenting here on socially-distanced models. Visitors to this page are encouraged to "vote" for their favorite piece and pairing. The winner will be announced at the major FWSD fall runway shows this October in California where the eight looks with live models and the salon works that inspired them will be incorporated.

Fashion Week San Diego® (FWSD) is an annual bi-national event, comprised of a Fall Runway Show and a series of exclusive events throughout San Diego County and New York. Launched by San Diego fashion Entrepreneur Allison Andrews in the fall of 2008, and operated by GFASH Designer Gwen Bates, FWSD is designed to grow the developing local retail industry and serve as a launching pad for emerging designers. FWSD breaks the traditional industry molds by connecting consumers directly with designers through annual events, social media and sales opportunities. So much work goes into creating an exhibition like this, not only on the part of the Art Renewal Center, but also by the artists, who spent months, or even years creating their masterpieces. To be able to combine a fine art exhibition with a fashion event like this, where two entirely separate groups of artists working in different art forms come together in cooperation, brings the experience to a whole new level. To learn more about Fashion Week San Diego, visit their site here or connect on Facebook @FashionWeekSD, Instagram @fashionweeksd or Twitter @fashionweeksd.
– Kara Lysandra Ross

19th Century European Paintings Art and Beauty Behind Fashion Art & Beauty Behind Fashion

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