Get Acquainted With Contemporary Representational Painting With Selections Chosen by the Art Renewal Center for a Sotheby’s Sale

Seven works featured in the online Contemporary Discoveries auction highlight a surging interest in Realist art.

Hsin-Yao Tseng, Times Square Red Night (2019). Courtesy of Art Renewal Center.

With a mission centered on the promotion and reinvigoration of representational art, the Art Renewal Center (ARC) is at the forefront of the 21st-century representational art movement. Founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 1999, the ARC was initially established to document and preserve the skills and knowledge of Old Master painting techniques, particularly as they have been developed over recent centuries. The need was evident: at that time, there were only 14 atelier schools worldwide that offered instruction in Realist painting styles; today, in large part due to the ARC’s efforts, there are more than 85 ARC Approved Schools and art programs, along with additional online resources for artists to learn about and advance representational art. In parallel with this proliferation of schools and ateliers, Realism has developed a new and growing following. Although abstraction has been a dominating force over the last century, in recent years there has been a notable resurgence in attention paid to figurative and Realist work.

In the summer of 2021, Sotheby’s opened its first-ever online auction of Important 21st Century Realism, which featured 28 lots selected from the 15th International ARC Salon—the largest representational art competition in the world. The salon received nearly 5,000 submissions from over 80 countries, and 91 works went on view in the Sotheby’s New York gallery space. The exhibition of Realist art was incredibly well received, and the auction ultimately sold 21 of the 28 lots for a total of $442,300, indicating strong interest.

Realist works from the ARC have continued to appear in Sotheby’s contemporary auctions, which have provided an invaluable platform for broad exposure. Currently, seven ARC works by both national and international artists are included in the online Contemporary Discoveries sale, open for bidding between September 23 and October 3, 2022. That Realism is so strongly represented in this sale highlights the ARC’s achievements in promoting the genre.

See selections from the Art Renewal Center in the Sotheby’s Contemporary Discoveries sale below.


Megan Read, Evanesce or The Comeback Kid (2022). Courtesy of the Renewal Art Center.

Megan Read, Evanesce (The Comeback Kid) (2022). Courtesy of the Art Renewal Center.

Lesley Thiel, In My Mind: I’m a Warrior (2022). Courtesy of the Art Renewal Center.

Tina Spratt, Before I Sleep (2022). Courtesy of the Art Renewal Center.

Vanessa Lemen, Tidal (2022). Courtesy of the Art Renewal Center.

The Contemporary Discoveries online auction is open for bidding September 23–October 3, 2022.

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