Humanities - Realism

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Antonio E. Gonzalez IV
Instructor Marc Unger
HUM2230 Ref: 254773
July 13th , 2007

Research Paper Abstract

For this paper I will be discussing “Realism” as my subject. “Realism, in art, the movement of the mid-19th cent. formed in reaction against the severely academic production of the French school. Realist painters sought to portray what they saw without idealizing it, choosing their subjects from the commonplaces of everyday life. Major realists included Gustave Courbet, J. F. Millet, and Honoré Daumier. In a broader sense the term is applied to an unembellished rendering of natural forms. In recent years realism has come to mean the presentation of forms and materials that are simply themselves, not primarily representations of things that already exist.”(1) I will be attempting to provide the reader with a general understanding of what “Realism” is. As well as providing the reader with enough information about my subject that they feel well informed and knowledgeable about the different aspects of “Realism”. Different aspects such as, what influences did it have, show examples of paintings, as well as how Realism is used in the literary and musical arts.

What is Real?

Can someone depict art in a realist fashion? Yes. “Realism (art and literature), in art and literature, an attempt to describe human behavior and surroundings or to represent figures and objects exactly as they act or appear in life. Attempts at realism have been made periodically throughout history in all the arts; the term is, however, generally restricted to a movement that began in the mid-19th century, in reaction to the highly subjective approach of romanticism. The difference between realism and naturalism is harder to define, however, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. The distinction lies in the fact that realism is concerned directly with what is absorbed by the senses; naturalism, a term more properly applied to literature, attempts to apply scientific theories to art.”(2)

“The earliest Realist work began to appear in the 18th century, in a reaction to the excesses of Romanticism and Neoclassicism .......But the great Realist era was the middle of the 19th century, as artists became disillusioned with the artifice of the Salons and the influence of the Academy.”(3) As the term may imply, the aim of Realism is to show actual events not fantasy or make believe. The people behind the Realism movement were living in the moment. They did not dwell on past events much like previous art movements had done. The Realists If you are always looking and dwelling on the past, before you know it your whole life could go by and not realize it. This is one reason why the realists preferred to show art in real time, not by painting pictures of past events. Realism can also thank Photography for becoming an influential part of the whole movement.

Photography is not the only way to capture images of the Realistic era. Paintings by artists such as John Singleton Copley show us the beginning workings of Realism art. If you look at John Singleton Copley's Watson and the Shark, 1778, you notice that there is a lot of thing going on. Various uses of colors make it look very realistic. Even though that the thought of being nude in the water and quite possibly the diner of a near by shark may seem far fetched it is portrayed in a very realistic way. One guy is trying to fight back the shark, two men are trying to pull the guy out of the water and then there are also a few other people aboard the ship in a panicking fashion trying to keep the others in the ship. The looks on their faces show a sense of urgency adding to the dramatic effect of the scene. All of this adds up to show the viewer quite a realistic scene. This wasn't just a painting, but a painting of an event that actually took place. [pic]

The painting is showing the people in a real time event. John Singleton Copley payed very close attention to...
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