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Realism: Art Movement Essay

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Updated: Aug 5th, 2021

Realism is one of the genres of art that originated due to the social questions of a particular era. This movement appeared in France in the 1840s as a reaction to changes in the government, military, and economic spheres (“Realism”). Édouard Manet, Gustave Courbet, Ilya Repin, Edward Hopper, and other representatives of early realism contributed significantly to the formation of this style of art. Among the most outstanding works created by the figures, it is possible to note “Olympia” by Manet, “Barge Haulers on the Volga” by Rrepin, or “Morning Sun” by Hopper, and these canvases are known worldwide.

Regarding my perception of realism as an art movement, I see it as a natural step that developed after the fantasy and fictional ideas of romanticism. It is clear why this genre has gained significant popularity – it was a reaction to the bored fictional images. I like the reality of the images presented by the figures of this trend because their practical techniques help emphasize specific nuances – the play of light and shadow, space organization, and other features. The only thing that is hard for me to understand is the verge of themes that painters can touch. In addition, I do not like some artists’ directness that is not supported by any background because a piece of art without a certain subtext seems insignificant. Nevertheless, when analyzing realism as a movement, one can note that it does not apply to fabulous plots and, as a rule, represents familiar objects and scenes. As an example, in Figure 1, the outstanding “Morning Sun” canvas by Edward Hopper is presented.

Morning Sun
Figure 1. Morning Sun (Hopper).

This work is an example of late realism without any reference to previous genres. Hopper created this canvas at the sunset of his creative career when he was 70, and the details of the painting, in particular, the woman’s turned face to the sun can reflect the painter’s personal state (“Edward Hopper”). Looking into the distance as hope and a psychological overtone make viewers think about what objects are outside the window, and Hopper manages to convey some tension in such a simple plot.

Works Cited

The Art Story, Web.

Hopper, Edward. Morning Sun. 1952. Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus. Edward Hopper: Paintings, Biography, and Quotes, Web.

The Art Story, Web.

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