Gustave Courbet was the man behind the term “Realism”.
The background was that Courbet was painting in reaction to the dominant Romanticism and Neoclassical schools of the time.
He felt that where these schools idealised and sensationalised the world he lived in, it never truly captured what he actually saw.
Courbet believed the Realist artist's mission was the pursuit of truth, which would help erase social contradictions and imbalances.
Painting contemporary, real events that were important to their lifetime and glorified the working class in a natural, non-romantic way.
Examples of Romanticism/ Neoclassicism Jacque-Louis David Napolean Crossing the Alps (c.1801) Eugene Delacroix Liberty Leading the People (1830)
Courbet and the Realists Courbet Burial at Ornans (1849-50)
At first the public did not receive the painting well due to it’s overwhelming realistic nature, but as more people saw it they became intrigued by the very real and lifelike expressions of the people mourning.
The painting has been noted to not only be the literal burial of Courbet’s uncle but as a metaphor for the burial of Romanticism.
Courbet The Artist’s Studio: A Real Allegory of a Seven Year Phase in my Artistic and Moral Life (1855) 361 × 598 cm
On the left are human figures from all levels of society. In the centre , Courbet works on a landscape, while turned away from a nude model who is a symbol of academic art tradition. On the right are friends and associates of Courbet including writers George Sand and Charles Baudelaire, Champfleury, and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.
This was submitted to the Paris World Fair and was refused entry (though Courbet did have 11 other accepted). With the help of a friend Courbet ran the Salon des Refusés next to the Paris World Fair and exhibited works of his and other rejected artists
Honore Dumier Third Class Wagon (1864) Jean-François Millet. The Gleaners (1857)
Édouard Manet The Luncheon on the Grass ( Le déjeuner sur l'herbe ), (1863)
Manet Olympia (1863)
The Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia
Though Manet is often slotted in with the Impressionists (as he was working at the same time), he was a Realist painter.
These works pushed Realism into a new realm in regards to public interests as the subject matter was controversial at the time.
Both paintings show a ‘naked’ woman (as opposed to the classic nude), in a rather contemporary setting and the gaze they have confront the viewer.
The metaphors and iconography in the works have been written about by a great deal of scholars.
A turn of the century idea in art, music and literature that showed through these different types of work, reflections of the time period.
Whether a cultural portrayal, or a scenic view of downtown New York City, these images and works of music depicted a contemporary view of what was happening; an attempt at defining what was real.
Early American Realism wanted to show the now and avoid being influence by reflections of the past or possibilities of the future.
Authors include: John Sloan, Mark Twain, and Stephen Crane
Artists include: the Ash Can (Ashcan) School
Musicians include: James A. Bland (first successful black songwriter) and C.A. White
The Ashcan School
These group of artists are best known for their works portraying scenes of daily life in poor urban neighbourhoods New York City as a prime example of an archetypal American city
Everyday life in the city was dealt with, not only as art , but as a contemporary standard of beauty, rendered in the sombre palette observed in the city.
This type of American art has also been called American Scene Painting, American Antimodernism, American Regionalism, and American Social Realism.
Robert Henri Snow in New York City (1902) Henri Salome (c.1909)
George Benjamin Luks Boxing Match (1910) George Wesley Bellows Stag at Sharkeys (1909)
Bellows Cliff Dwellers (1913) John Sloan Sixth Avenue at 3rd Street, (1928)
Modern American Realism (a.k.a. Photorealism)
It emerged from Pop Art and was counter Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism.
Photorealism has been mislabelled Hyper-realism, Super-realism, and New Realism.
The term ‘photorealism’ was coined by Louis K. Meisel in 1968.
Big idea Photorealism CANNOT exist without the camera.
Artists include: P ainters as Richard Estes, Ralph Goings, Chuck Close, Charles Bell, John Baeder, Audrey Flack, Don Eddy, Robert Bechtle, Tom Blackwell, and Richard McLean. Sculptors as Duane Hanson and John De Andrea.
Louis K. Meisel’s definition
Because there was such confusion as to what constituted Photorealist work Meisel was requested to define the movement. He did so as follows:
Uses the camera and photograph to gather information.
Uses a mechanical or semimechanical means to transfer the information to the canvas.
must have the technical ability to make the finished work appear photographic.
The artist must have exhibited work as a Photo-Realist by 1972 to be considered one of the central Photo-Realists.
The artist must have devoted at least five years to the development and exhibition of Photo-Realist work.