The Art Renewal Center is an organization dedicated to classical realism in art, as opposed to the Modernist developments of the 20th century. It exists primarily as an online art gallery.
The Center was founded in 2000 by a group of artists, art collectors, historians, and enthusiasts, and is chaired by Fred Ross. Its collection of images of artworks includes many works of Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Romantic and French Academic art. It includes some Impressionist artists such as Claude Monet and Édouard Manet, but does not include any of the Post-impressionists, such as Paul Gauguin or Paul Cézanne, nor any other Modernist school such as the Surrealism exemplified by Salvador Dalí and Yves Tanguy. The group is critical of much 20th-century art on the grounds that it demonstrates weak technique and conveys ideas ineffectually, if at all, and focuses on false, obscure, or trivial subject matter, in addition to being weird for weirdness' sake. Exceptions include such 20th-century artists as Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell, and a number of contemporary realist painters featured in its Living Masters List.
The ARC abides by a concept of art exemplified by art produced from the Renaissance to the late 19th century. ARC's concept of art is exemplified by this quote from their FAQ:
Specifically, the way that art accomplishes its expression is through the manipulation of a medium as a selective recreation of some aspect of reality. That is to say that the artist "fictionalizes" reality in order to highlight some idea he thinks is important, and to diminish ones he considers irrelevant to his intended message.
The latest famous modern artists to be discussed on their site are the likes of Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, and they are uniformly dismissed. Later post-modern artists are not mentioned.
The group actively promotes the French artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau, considering him not only the greatest French artist of the nineteenth century but also 'unquestionably one of history's greatest artistic geniuses.' Several Art Renewal Center members are, in addition, involved with the "William Bouguereau Catalog Raisonné" project.
The Art Renewal Center also encourages the development of traditional painting styles and methods such as instruction by atelier for painters, and has held an annual ARC Salon Competition since 2003. Daniel Gerhartz won the Best in Show for 2004, with Paul G. Oxborough winning the Best in Show for 2005. Donato Giancola won first place at the figurative Category in 2004. Dana E. Levin was one of the first ARC International Scholarship winners in 2001 and 2002.