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The Shift from Realism to Impressionism Essay

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Both Realism and Impressionism began in France with both art periods lending to the world unique techniques, aesthetic approaches and subjects in painting. While Impressionism stemmed from Realism, it can be argued Impressionism ultimately lead to continued individual expression in art through out the historical art periods to follow.

The art period of Realism from 1845 to 1900, has roots which trail back to mid 1800s France and developed as a reaction to the often exaggerated emotionalism of the former art period of Romanticism. Realist artists instead strove to depict the seriousness of every day life. To show subjects or scenes just as they were without involvement of religion, mythology or history. McDowall (1918) pointed “At the bottom of realism, in all its variations, seems to be the sense of actual existence; an acute awareness of it, and a vision of things under that form. It is a thoroughly natural feeling, it is, in fact, the primitive attitude of man” (p. 3). In painting, film and literature artists aimed to present things as they appear.

A major social condition that contributed to the emergence of Realism was the Industrial Revolution. With its mass machinery production of products, the Industrial Revolution not only created an explosion of railroads and cities but also an explosion of wealthy middle class and poor working class. The discovery of photography in 1839 by Daguerre and others also resulted in a growing trend to copy everyday life, which in turn sprouted the appeal of realism in art. Buser (2006) noted that during the Industrial Revolution the rules of life were the fundamental ideas of technology, science and practical business sense. Buser (2006) further theorized “Since progress in these...


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...rowther (2005) reflects “One can draw a direct line from the Impressionist, through the Post-Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists, to the Fauves, the Cubists, the Symbolists and ultimately to Abstract Expressionists”. Artists through the ages continued to experiment with new technique allowing modern art to evolve and take shape.




References

Bingham, J. (2009). Impressionism. Chicago, Illinois: Heinemann Library.

Buser, T. (2006). Experiencing art around us. USA: Thompson Wadsworth.

Crowther, J. (2005). Impressionism: more than meets the eye. Retrieved from http://www.artist-perspectives.com/articles/impressionism.htm


Janaro, R.P., & Altshuler, T.C. (2009). The art of being human: the humanities as a technique for living. Pearson Education, Inc.

McDowall, A.S. (1918). Realism: a study in art and thought. London: Constable and Company LTD.


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