Social Realism was an art movement that kicked off in American during the 1930’s.
Social Realism was used as a way to depict the hardships of life.
Examples: Racial injustices, economic problems, working conditions.
In the paintings, satire would often be used to express the issue the painting was addressing.
Social Realism existed very heavily all around the world, centered mainly in the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union.
Social Realism developed as early as the 1850’s in Europe, but didn’t make its way into America until the turn of the century. Even then, it didn’t really take off until the 1930’s, when the Great Depression kicked in.
While the movement declined over the years and was considered “dead” in most countries, the movement wasn’t officially declared over until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The biggest influence on American Social Realism was the Regionalism art movement, which depicted suburban life. Regionalism depicted similar problems, and used a similar art style, but used much more color in the art, and didn’t have the same mood that Social Realism had.
Gustave Courbet is also credited for having an influence on Social Realism, because his art would sometimes depict hardships of life, and used little color, unlike Regionalism.
Thomas Hart Benton
Dorothea Lange became a major artist during the Great Depression.
She preferred photography as her style of art.
One characteristic she had was not naming her pieces. For whatever reason, she preferred to not name her art pieces.
While Social Realism as an art movement is technically considered dead, there are still films coming out that are considered to be Social Realism, although most of these films are British films.
Some artists are claiming that a rebirth to social realism, as they’re calling Contemporary Social Realism, has begun. This movement depicts general aspects of life, rather than using the depressing aspects used in the last movement. Similar styles that were seen in Social Realism are used in this movement too, though.
A lot of the original art from the movement is being portrayed, and parodied, in a lot of today’s popular culture.