January 20, 2024
By Chelsea Reed
Realistic-looking art is a common centerpiece in art shows. This genre often features slice of life moments with amazing accurate detail. It’s a true testament to the skill of an artist. But did you know that Realism was once a strange idea?
In spirit, hints of Realism can be traced as far back as Ancient Greece, especially in sculptures. Artists at that time were fascinated by the beauty and form of the human figure. Once Greece was conquered by Rome, this appreciation continued in the Roman Empire, and then later the rest of Western Civilization. Prestigious art schools strived to create the most beautiful and lofty human forms in their masterpieces. But there was one problem - over time, they began to omit the “gritty” details of reality.
Western societies continued to grow, and so did their awareness of life. The Age of Enlightenment swept forth new ideas that championed research and science over superstition and ideals. The Industrial Revolution brought exciting new technologies like automation, mass media, and photography, but also the stark contrasts between those who profited from it and those scraping to make ends meet. People began to realize that the traditional interpretations of the arts were not adequate for expressing the reality around them. This became the breeding ground for Realism, which finally came forth in France in the 1840s. Realist artists sought to express the ordinary realities of 19th century life, which was “against the grain” from the “superhuman” traditional art teachings in the prestigious Salon art circuit.
Realism is easy to spot with the naked eye. The subject and setting are always inspired from a real place, person, or animal. A realist painting almost looks like a photograph, it uses earthy colors and often features ordinary scenes of life or history. Many details are captured in a realist piece, even the rustic and seemingly “unattractive,’ because that is where the artist finds honest beauty. 19th century Realism critiqued traditional views of French high society and politics, but it was also the first movement that broke away from traditional Classical art. More modern art movements like Impressionism began to emerge. Today, Realism is a thriving art genre that has garnered an admiration for the artist’s accuracy and technical skill. In fact, realism today fits right in with any Classical Greek piece on the walls of an executive’s window office!
You don’t have to be an executive to enjoy Realism art. This versatile genre is a great choice that will look regal in any home or office year-round. And unlike a photograph, it is an original unique work of art. There are a variety of price options, too. Take a look at Seaside Art Gallery’s online exhibit Realism: The Unembellished Beauty of Everyday Life. This special exhibit is open now through January 31.
Chelsea Reed is a copywriter who writes winning content, articles, blogs, and websites from her base in North Carolina. She might not be building sandcastles or swashbuckling with pirates these days, but the Outer Banks beaches continue to keep her young at heart.
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