Realism (visual arts)

Realism (visual arts)

Realism is a visual art style that depicts the actuality of what the eyes can see. Realists render everyday characters, situations, dilemmas, and objects, all in verisimilitude. They tend to discard theatrical drama, lofty subjects and classical forms in favor of commonplace themes. Gustave Courbet is credited with coining the term, which often refers to the artistic movement, sometimes called naturalism, which began in the 1850s in France.


Realism appears in art as early as 2400 BC in the city of Lothal in what is now India, and examples can be found throughout the history of art. In the broadest sense, realism in a work of art exists wherever something has been well observed and accurately depicted, even if the work as a whole does not strictly conform to the conditions of realism. For example, the proto-Renaissance painter Giotto di Bondone brought a new realism to the art of painting by rendering physical space and volume far more convincingly than his Gothic predecessors. His paintings, like theirs, represented biblical scenes and the lives of the saints.

In the late 16th century, the prevailing mode in European art was mannerism, an artificial art of elongated figures in graceful but unlikely poses. Caravaggio emerged to change the direction of art by depicting flesh-and-blood human beings, painted directly from life with an immediacy never before seen.

A fondness for humble subjects and homely details characterizes much of Dutch art, and Rembrandt is an outstanding realist in his renunciation of the ideal and his embrace of the life around him. In the 19th century a group of French landscape artists known as the Barbizon School emphasized close observation of nature, paving the way for the Impressionists. In England the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood rejected what they saw as the formulaic idealism of the followers of Raphael, which led some of them to an art of intense realism. The final years and aftermath of the First World War saw a return of realism and of styles dating back to before Post-Impressionism, in the so-called "Return to Order" - this became known as "Neo-Realism" or "Modern Realism" in England (led by Meredith Frampton, Charles Ginner, Harold Gilman and the Euston Road School), "traditionisme" in France (led by André Derain) and "Neue Sachlichkeit" (led by Otto Dix and Christian Schad) and "Magic Realism" in Germany.

Trompe l'oeil (literally, "fool the eye"), a technique which creates the illusion that the objects depicted actually exist, is an extreme example of artistic realism. Examples of this tendency can be found in art from antiquity to the present day.

Among the important realist painters are:
*William Bliss Baker
*Rosa Bonheur
*William-Adolphe Bouguereau
*Karl Briullov
*Henri Cadiou
*Ford Madox Brown
*Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin
*Camille Corot
*Gustave Courbet
*Charles-François Daubigny
*Honoré Daumier
*Edgar Degas (also an Impressionist)
*Edward Hopper
*Thomas Eakins
*Nikolai Ge
*Aleksander Gierymski
*William Harnett (a specialist in trompe l'oeil)
*Winslow Homer
*Louis Le Nain
*Édouard Manet (associated with Impressionism)
*Jean-François Millet
*Ilya Yefimovich Repin
*Rembrandt van Rijn
*Théodore Rousseau
*Andrew Wyeth
*Nikolai Yaroshenko

See also

Realistic art
*Classical Realism
*Fantastic realism
*Figurative art
*Genre works
*Heroic realism
*Magic realism
*Naturalism (art)
*New Realism
*Romantic realism
*Social realism
*Socialist realism
*American realism


*Barbizon school
*Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood


* [ "Modern Realism"] at Tate Britain

External links

* [ The International Guild of Realism] - Society for the advancement of Realism in Fine Art
* [ Art Renewal Center]
* [ Contemporary Still Life, Painter Directory]

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