WHAT IS REALISM?
Realism in the arts is the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, implausible, exotic and supernatural element.
1.Realism – This art refers to realistic portrayals of subject matters, context and art that closely resemble everyday life for example, Jean- Francois millet, woman with a rake (1856- 57) depicts a working class woman breaking hay.
2.Realismi is the accurate depiction of the life, perspective and the details of light and color i.e., it is drawn in photographic precision
Origin of realism
The realism art movement in painting began in France in the 1850s, after the 1848 revolution by Gustavo Courbet (1819-77), after one of his paintings(The Artist’s Studio) was rejected by the world fair in Paris. It was entitled “Le Realisme”.
Realism was recognized as first modern movement in art, it rejected traditional forms of art, literature and social organization around the start of industrial revolution during Napoleon iii
During the revolution, the French fought for the democratic reforms while the realist pushed the idea of art created by the everyday life of the working class.
It was created to revolt against the themes of exaggerating emotions and drama during romanticism movement that dominated French art, with roots in the late 18th century.
Working in a chaotic era marked by revolution and widespread social change, Realist painters replaced the idealistic images and literary conceits of traditional art with real-life events, giving the margins of society similar weight to grand history paintings and allegories.
Realism was the first explicitly anti-institutional, nonconformist art movement. Realist painters took aim at the social mores and values of the bourgeoisie and monarchy upon who patronized the art market. Though they continued submitting works to the Salons of the official Academy of Arts, they were not above mounting independent exhibitions to defiantly show their work.
Following the explosion of newspaper printing and mass media in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, Realism brought in a new conception of the artist as self-publicist. Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, and others purposefully courted controversy and used the media to enhance their celebrity in a manner that continues among artists to this day.
Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet a French painter who led the realism movement in the 19th century French painting and regarded as innovator and also an artist willing to make bold social statement through his work.
Characteristics of Realism
Distinguish features of realism art
They are precise, detailed and accurate representation of scene and object.
Diego Velázquez, The Farmers’ Lunch, c. 1620
It was created in many periods and it need technical training and avoidance of style which is the large part of realism. For instance, the artist who follows the realistic art tradition will never try to hide any flows in the object or scene he/she is painting.
Artist painted their everyday lives and something exactly as they saw them and didn’t try to interpret their settings or add emotion.
Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Woman Cleaning Turnips, c. 1738, Alte Pinakothek.
Choice and treatment of subject matter that defines realism as a movement in painting, rather than the careful attention to visual appearance.
William Bell Scott, Iron and Coal, 1855–60
Realism art movement is also associated with the age of positivism which refers to gaining knowledge using scientific methods of observation, coined by French philosopher Auguste comte.
Since they were depicting what they see, the artists didn’t believe in painting the Gods, goddess or angels with wings therefore their muse shouldn’t be someone who is larger than the life unlike naturalism.
Rejection of romanticism period that was originally in France is an important aspect of realistic art. Therefore, painting things, people and daily scenes that occurs every day is the objective of this form of art.eg the gleaners by Jean- François
Realism in 20th the century
In the modern realism, there is a wide variety of forms and style used since realist artists had no shortage of ideas after the two world wars. They include the holocaust art, photo realism, cynical realism, hyper realism, magic realism, surrealism, precisionism, verismo and social realism among others that emerged.
Hyperrealism is a genre of painting and sculpture resembling a high-resolution photograph. It is considered an advancement of Photo realism by the methods used to create the resulting paintings or sculptures. The term is primarily applied to an independent art movement and art style in the United States and Europe that has developed since the early 1970s.Carol Feuerman is the forerunner in the hyperrealism movement along with Duane Hanson and John De Andrea.
Hyperrealism used canvas or mold, including preliminary drawings also called grisaille underpaintings.
They used photographic slide projections to project images onto the canvases. Gridding was used to ensure accuracy.
Some of the hyperrealist painters include Chuck close, Denis Peterson and Bert Monroy.
Charles Bell, Circus Act, Silkscreen on Paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 1995
Is a style that began in late 1960s and early 1970s which deals with painting, drawing and other graphic media in which an artist studies a photograph and attempts to reproduce the image.
The main material used is the photograph slides and the canvases.
Usually, when the photograph is developed, is transferred onto the canvases. The new image is always larger than the original one.
This results in the photorealist style being tight and precise and also requires high level of technical ability.
Some known artists are John Baeder, Richard Estes, Ralph Goings.
Dream of Love (2005), Oil on canvas. Example of Photorealist Glennray Tutor’s work
Other forms of realism;
Gustavo was the first artist to self-consciously proclaim and practice the realist art. He was a French painter born on 10 June 1819- 31 December 1877.
He led the realism movement after one of his work, the studio (1854-55) that he displayed at the Exposition Universelle of 1855 was rejected.
Odalisque were Courbet first work which was inspired by the writing of victor Hugo and a Lélia illustrating George sand, later abandoned literary influences, choosing instead to base his paintings on observed reality. At first, most of his paintings were self-portraits. This include Self-portrait with black dog(c. 1842–44, accepted for exhibition at the 1844 Paris Salon), the theatrical Self-Portrait which is also known as Desperate Man (c. 1843–45), Lovers in the Countryside (1844, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon), The wounded man (1844-54,Musee d’Orsay, Paris).
He was a controversial painter not only because his work involved social issues like the peasant and the working condition of the poor but also because of his instrumental way in which he painted them unlike romanticism ways, Courbet did not use smooth lines and soft forms instead he used natural brushstrokes and rough paint texture. Which meant he was observing his object directly from what he saw in his everyday life.
Courbet achieved his first salon success in 1849 with his painting After Dinner at Ornans. The gold medal he won from the success meant that his work would no longer require jury approval for exhibition at the salon-an exemption he enjoyed until 1857 when the rule changed.
Gustavo Courbet famous works
1. The Stone Breakers
In 1849-50, Courbet painted stone breakers (it’s said to be destroyed in the allied bombing of Dresden in 1945).
The painting was inspired by a scene Courbet witnessed on the roadside. Courbet made their figure faceless as to make them anonymous stand-in for the lowest orders of French society.
More attention, Courbet give to their dirty, tattered work clothes, their strong, weathered hand, and their relationship to the land to than to their recognizabilty.
2. A Burial at Ornans
This was important work that Courbet was inspired when he attended his grand uncle’s funeral in September 1848. Courbet used the real people actually, all the townspeople which resulted to a realistic presentation of them and of life in Ornans. The vast painting—it measures 10 by 22 feet (3.0 by 6.7 meters) — drew both praise and fierce denunciations from critics and the public, in part because it upset convention by depicting a prosaic ritual on a scale which would previously have been reserved for a religious or royal subject. The work is found in musee d’Orsay in Paris.
3. The Bathers (1853)
This is one of the best examples of Courbet’s non-classical treatment of nudes. In this eight foot tall painting two women are partially naked without any mythological justification or rhetoric, rendered naturally and not idealized. The painting was poorly received, with Delacroix seeing no excuse for these “naked and fat bourgeoisie.. buttocks, and meaningless gestures.” But rather than being negative, the attention was good publicity, and Courbet sold the work in spite of the criticisms.
Oil on canvas – Musée Fabre, Montpellier.
Other Courbet’s work;
the meeting or Bonjour Monsieur Courbet (1854), Oil on canvas – Montpellier, Musée Fabre.
The Painter’s Studio: A Real Allegory Summing Up a Seven-Year Phase of My Artistic Life (1855), Oil on canvas-Musée d’Orsay.
Manet was a French painter. Born on 23th January 1832 and died on 30th April 1883. He was one of the first 19th century artists to paint modern life, and a pivotal figure in the transition from realism to impressionism.
In 1856, Manet opened a studio. His use brush strokes, simplification of details and the suppression of transitional tones. He adopted the current realism initiated by Gustavo Courbet. Some of his works includes, The Absinthe Drinker (1858-59), Christ mocked and Christ with angles, now in the Art Institute of Chicago.
Édouard Manet major works
1. Luncheon on the Grass ( Le dejeuner sur l’herbe)
Manet created this at in 1862-1863. Is a large oil on canvas, was originally titled Le Bain (The bath). It depicts a female nude and a scantily dressed female bather on a picnic with two fully dressed men. It was rejected by the salon jury of 1863, later took it to salon des refuses where the painting sparked controversy.
The piece is now in the musee d’Orsay in Paris. It has a 208cm times 264.5cm in dimension.
2. Olympia (1863)
This piece of art is oil on canvas and represent a lower-class prostitute according to manet. Olympia’s references to Titans’s Venus of Urbino (1538) and Goya’s Maja Desnuda(1799-1800) that fits easily into the traditional ” boudoir” style. Manet rather overtly includes a black cat, symbolizing heightened sexuality and prostitution normaly known for Baudelarian symbol. Olympia is now found in Musee d’Orsay.
3. Alabama and Kearsage (c. 1865)
4. A Bar at the Folies-Bergere (1881-82)
5. The Execution of Emperor Maximilian (1867-68)
Millet was a French painter born on October 4th 1814 and died on January 20th 1875. He was one of the founder of the Barbizon school in rural France. He is known for his wok of peasant farmers which is recognized as part of realism. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Art with Paul Delaroche.
The Woman baking bread(1854) The Gleaners,1857 The sower,1850
Others famous realists
Jean-Baptiste Camille Carot
Winslow Homer and Lucian Freud.
IMPRESSIONISM ART MOVEMENT
What is/was impressionism?
The term impressionist was first used by a fierce critique called Luis Leroy, to insult Claude Monet’s painting, saying that the painting only gave an impression. This painting was the Impression Sunrise.
The impressionist movement can be considered the first major modern movement in painting, developing in Paris around 1860s and reaching its age of glory from 1876-1886. It came about at a time when religious and historical themes were praised. This meant that they were considered very controversial, and they were not allowed to display their paintings at the Universal Exposition in Paris. This refusal to recognize impressionist paintings as works of art later opened doors for the artists due to the popular demand from the public, leading to the opening of the Salon of the refused.
Impressionists aimed to capture the momentary impression of a glance of a scene without as if it was only seen for a few seconds. To achieve this effect, many Impressionist artists decided to start painting in the streets and the countryside, painting en plein air.
The French were under an oppressive monarchy and a large percentage of the public was living in absolute poverty. Instead of depicting scenes showing the reality, the artists of the time concentrated on fantasized nudes and superficial paintings of nature.
(Left: William-Adolphe Bouguereau, The Birth of Venus) (Right: Jean-Louis-Arnest, Meissonier)
Claude Monet, Pierre Renoir, Edward Manet and few other artists did not agree with the way scenery and still paintings were considered inferior by the French Academy. In 1863, at a very important event in the French Art scene, the “yearly art salon”, a large number of artists were not allowed to display their art, leading to a public outcry. One of those artists was Edouard Mantets Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the grass).
The public demanded to see the art and judge it for themselves. Later that same year, the Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Refused) was formed as a response to allow artists that had been refused access to the official salon to exhibit their art work. This led to a boost of support and recognition from people all-over the world since this style of painting was very new and challenged a lot of norms in the art world.
Salon of the Refused- 1863
The Impressionists aimed to depict a scene as if the viewer or artist only got a short glimpse of the scene and not the full picture. To achieve this effect, impressionists loosened their brushwork making the strokes short and light. They also preferred to use oil canvas and lightened their palettes to include pure, dominant, unblended colours such as yellow and red. This was done to show vibrancy and give a sense of warmth from the painting. Many
Claude Monet-Woman with a parasol
The painting above is a good example of how bold colours like yellow and blue are used to show light and warmth of the surroundings. The faces of the characters are not clear but only depict the facial features. By abandoning the traditional linear perspective and clarity of form that had been used to distinguish the important parts of a painting, many critics were not impressed by impressionist paintings because they thought they looked very unprofessional and had a unfinished, almost unclear appearance.
Picking up on the ideas of Gustave Courbet (a realism artist), the Impressionists aimed to paint themes based off reality – they wanted to have more subjects to paint, not just people with status and power. They decided to get away from depictions of idealized nudes and perfect symmetry, but rather concentrating on the world as they saw it, imperfect in a myriad of ways.
Impressionists also moved away from the dominating themes (at that time) of religious and historical subjects. Many preferred painting scenes of urban areas, where people gathered for leisure activities, places like cafes and parties.
Edouard Manet (1832-1883) was a French Artist born in a wealthy family. He studied art in the College Rollin and spent six years in the studio of Thomas Courture in 1850. In 1859, he submitted his first painting, The Absinthe Drinker, in the Salon where it was rejected, and later in 1863, the Luncheon on the grass was rejected. This caused a major scandal, leading to the opening of the Salon of the refused to allow unconventional artists to display their art.
In 1865, Manet followed up with Olympia, which became a big scandal due to the bare depiction of naked women, contrary to previous beliefs of how nudity should be painted. This made other impressionists admire him, and they saw him as the forefather of impressionists.
The Monet Family
A Bar at the Folies-Bergere (1881-82)
Claude Monet (1840-1926) was also a French artist whose art work is considered some of the best in the impressionist world. During his time in University, he was so good he was recommended by his mentors to take up landscape painting. He spent a significant part of his early life in art studios where he met other impressionist artists like Pissarro. He emphasized on light and the plein air form of painting in which he helped pioneer. Some popular art work includes; Woman with a Parasol, Women in the garden, water lilies amongst many others.
Water lilies 1915-1926
Women in the garden 1866-67
Edgar was a French artist born to a rich, art loving banker. Although he studied law, in 1855, he joined Ecole d’beaux Arts. He spent a lot of time in Italy learning from Old masters. He had mastered classical paintings, portraits and even copied historical paintings. He met Manet by chance and never looked back. His style differed from other impressionists who liked painting landscapes, whereas he preferred painting subjects like ballet dancers, cafe scenes, and the circus among many others. This meant that his work was rather different from other Impressionists, although he still used the same methods of painting. Some famous paintings by him include Foyer de la Danse (1872), The Bellelli Family (1859),Édouard Manet and Mme. Manet (1868-69).
The Bellelli Family
Édouard Manet and Mme. Manet (1868-69)
Foyer de la Danse (1872),
Comparison between Realism and Impressionism
Impressionism is a style of art established in the mid-19th century that dedicated primarily on a fleeting moment. Impressionist painters tried to create the feeling of movement by using loose brush strokes, sketchy lines, and blotches of color that composite together to generate the feeling of an impression. This style of art initiated when “a group of artists called the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers, etc. prepared an exhibition in Paris that launched the movement called Impressionism”.
While, Realism sought to convey accurate depiction and objective vision of contemporary life. This style of art uses very real pictures to depict the life of common people, instead of pastimes of the upper and middle classes which is the focus of Impressionism. Rosa Bonheur’s painting The Horse Fair (1853-55) is an example of the focus of the style. Realism is meant to portray life without glamorizing it. It is meant to show the ways people make a living. The focus of Realism revolves around farm animals, peasants, and other ordinary activities.