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Naturalistic Art Versus Abstract Art Research Paper

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Updated: Oct 18th, 2021

Naturalistic art pertains to the imagery of real things that are located in their natural conditions. This form of art was highly acclaimed during the 19th century and it was also known as the Realism movement. Naturalistic art is also considered as the response of a new generation of artists who tried to revolutionize artistry during that time, which was generally dominated by Romanticism. One of the most acclaimed naturalism artists is William Bliss Baker, who was recognized for his paintings of majestic landscapes. Another artist who was recognized for his naturalist approach in painting is Albert Charpin, whose sheep paintings represented almost true-to-life imagery. The naturalist approach to art was strongly influenced by the principles of the evolutionist Charles Darwin, who suggested that human beings should not go against natural processes such as evolution.

The history of naturalism dates back to the early years of the Renaissance period and the succeeding years were characterized by further development and enhancement of the artistic form. The Florentine School is one historic institution that is known for teaching the principles of naturalistic art. This art school was established in the 14th century and has generated some famous artists such as Michelangelo and Donatello. Naturalistic art is commonly observed in old churches which present altars and panel pieces that are filled with dramatic expressions of Jesus and Mary, as well as angels, clouds, and doves. These artworks were generally extravagant and huge, covering massive ceilings and walls of prime establishments of European cities (De Montebello and Burn, 2004). Naturalist art weakened after the 15th century due to the onset of the bubonic plague. Most of the attention and resources of that time were suddenly reverted to healthcare and the recognition of naturalistic art significantly decreased.

Abstract art, on the other hand, is a form of imagery that employs the features of form and lines to create a visual representation of an idea (Anfam, 1990). The emergency of abstract art came about after the weakening of naturalistic art. This period of change in art patronage correlated with the time when society wanted to find some logical reason to erase reality after the sufferings that were experienced during the bubonic plague. In addition, abstract art makes use of illusions, which were then warmly welcomed by a society that was in search of some form of entertainment during difficult times. Abstract art also provided a means for European society to create alternative methods in representing visual concepts (Hess, 2005). The advent of abstract art is also consequential to the revolutionary discoveries in science and technology, hence this novel served as a medium for theoretical discussions. Abstract art has been considered as a timely form of artistry for the intellectual confusion that was rampant during those centuries.

Western art incessantly moves from naturalistic art to abstract art through time because the Western world is constantly evolving and trying to find its true identity, even today. The state of Western art today is more of that of naturalistic art because the Western world is currently much more appreciative of nature than it was before the environmental changes have occurred (Andrews, 2000). There is so much deterioration in the natural environment in the Western world and in response, naturalistic art serves as a medium in reminding society and art patrons to remember and realize that nature has to be taken care of and appreciated. In addition, naturalistic art gives importance to the natural beauty of our environment.


  1. Andrews M (2000): Landscape and Western Art. New Jersey: Oxford University Press, 256 pages.
  2. Anfam D (1990): Abstract Expressionism. San Francsico: Thames & Hudson, 216 pages.
  3. De Montebello P and Burn B (2004): Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 3rd ed. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 320 pages.
  4. Hess B (2005): Abstract Expressionism: Basic Art. Los Angeles: Taschen, 94 pages.
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