19th Century Realism

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Department
Visual Arts History
Course
Visual Arts History 1040
Professor
Christine Sprengler
Semester
Winter

Description
Feb 10 12 th19 Century RealismProduct of the enlightenment and was very popular in France thThe below are political offshoots that influenced realism in the 19 centuryEmpiricism The search for knowledge based on observation and direct experienceWorld can be knowable and understood through close observation Knowledge can be gleaned from sense experience aloneDid not think there was something like innate knowledgeJohn Locke and Hume were involved with thisPositivism Comes out of empiricism but they hold that scientific laws govern the environment and human activity and could be analysed through looking at what is in front of us All aspects of the world are positively knowableHas been debunked since but it did have much influence on sociology and psychology in its time Abandoned because they believed that speculation has no role in anything and that thinkers who concern themselves with unanswerable questions were wasting their time Wanted only to look at problems that could be solved scientifically Artists of the time revolted against neoclassicism because they believed the heroic images had no place in art and they thought they required speculation because they were historical Artists turned their attention then to what they did see which was everyday contemporary lifePolitics Realists reacted against themes of abstraction in art and the grand themes that had been past subjects and they thought they were irrelevant World marked by political disenfranchisement unemployment and economic turmoil Large academic themes did not speak to the masses Realism is not defined by a unified style but is defined by a commitment to paint the modern world as it appeared even is that was brutal and miserable Wanted to show the conditions people were living in at the time Attracted the label avantgarde and it described the forward moving units of the army but it was used in art to describe those working in advance of bourgeoisie art Art was tied to revolutionary concepts utopians etc The Stone Breakers By Gustave Courbet 1849 Oil on canvas 53 x 86Painting no longer exists and was burned during the Second World War in a fire bombingThere is a young boy on the left and an old man on the right and they are breaking rocks to makegravel for roads Has one of the hardest jobs one could do but it provided the basis for modern infrastructure Artist wanted a realistic depiction of the act of stone breaking and the poverty the people doingso had to deal with Work has more to do than with just observing reality but there was a layer of meaning seen where the boy is wearing contemporary boots but the old man is wearing clogs and this shows a generational divideThe old man is a symbol of an obsolete rural past and the boy represents the future but a bleakone the future for those who have to do labor is doomed Done on the scale of a historical painting and this caused a stir in the art world because there werefaceless people doing menial work and he was saying everyday things needed to be seen with thesame esteem as subjects of the past
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