Gustave Courbet

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Art Hist 6C
Gustave Courbet has left a great mark on history, both as a painter and revolutionary. With his new takes on art, and unconventional desire to speak and unveil the truth, he stirred controversy with every new painting exhibited. Courbet’s genius and inspirational work gave voice to the lower socioeconomic class, in a way never seen before. He was a painter and activist, and most importantly a great humanitarian. Courbet attempted to portray what he saw in an objective, real, and “in-the-now” matter, both as a painter and revolutionary. He sought out to portray the realities of the world as they were and gave particular attention to poverty, oppression, and injustice. A lot of his ideology shaped they way it did as an artist and person because he witnessed the Revolutions of 1848 throughout Europe, where the oppressed revolted against their oppressive rulers. These revolutions served as inspiration for Courbet’s work, and can be clearly seen in his unique pieces. Courbet showed peasants in the real form they were in with dirty clothes, and craggy features, and on the other hand showed people of power in the form they were in. This contrast that Courbet often highlighted in his work were reasons why he had many critics. As Courbet claimed, he was “not only a Socialist but a democrat and a Republican: in a word, a supporter of the whole Revolution.” Courbet contributed to the Revolution indirectly through his works of art. By displaying everyday scenes in an “as is” fashion, and portraying the reality of the situation people faced, the Revolution benefited more from his art than it could have from his physical battle. Never before had anyone dared to take such an unconventional route as Courbet did. In the Stonebreakers, Courbet portrayed “two haggard men laboring to produce gravel used for roadbeds,” as discussed by Linda Nochlin, in a way never before seen. To begin, the dimensions of the painting were 5’3” by 8’6”, something never...
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