Presentation on theme: "Romanticism and Realism AS PORTRAYED IN ART.. Quickfire challenge! You are being shown a series of paintings, done at different time periods and by different."— Presentation transcript:
Quickfire challenge! You are being shown a series of paintings, done at different time periods and by different artists. You will create a T chart listing the differences between the Romantic and Realist paintings. Then, you must choose which painting you think would best represent the following narratives: “The Yellow Wallpaper” and The Doll House. Be prepared to defend your decisions.
What Are the Key Characteristics of Romanticism?
Emotional Emphasis The paintings of the Romantic period were emotional powder kegs. Artists expressed as much feeling and passion as could be loaded on to a canvas. A landscape had to evoke a mood, a crowd scene had to show expressions on every face, an animal painting had to depict some, preferably majestic, trait of that animal. Even portraits were not totally straightforward representations -- the sitter would be given eyes meant to be mirrors of the soul, a smile, a grimace, or a certain tilt of the head. With little touches, the artist could portray his subject surrounded by an atmosphere of innocence, madness, virtue, loneliness, altruism or greed.
Nature Can Kill You If there is one prevalent theme to Romanticism, it is this: nature can change direction without warning, and we puny mortals are no match for it. You will find many, many examples of shipwrecks in Romantic paintings, for example. Shipwrecks, historically speaking, have always had high mortality rates. If you didn't drown, you stood a good chance of dying slowly of dehydration and starvation. Likewise, Romantic art had more than its fair share of blizzards, fires, thunderstorms, lightning strikes, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, and biblical disasters. About the only natural disaster Romanticism did not try to portray was an asteroid strike. And that is probably only because no one in the early 19th-century had yet discovered the geological evidence of impact events.
Current Events In addition to the emotionally-charged feelings one got from looking at Romantic paintings, contemporary viewers were usually quite knowledgeable of the story behind the subject matter. Why? Because the artists frequently took their inspiration from current events. For example, when Théodore Géricault unveiled his gigantic masterpiece The Raft of the Medusa (1818-19), the French public was already well acquainted with the gory details following the 1816 shipwreck of the naval frigate Méduse. Similarly, Eugène Delacroix painted Liberty Leading the People (1830) fully aware that every adult in France was already familiar with the July Revolution of 1830. Of course, not every Romantic work related to current events. For those that did, however, the benefits were a receptive, informed viewership, and increased name recognition for their creators.
Lack of Unifying Style, Technique, or Subject Matter Romanticism wasn't like Rococo art, in which fashionable, attractive people engaged in fashionable, attractive pastimes while courtly love lurked around every corner -- and all of these goings- on were captured in a light-hearted, whimsical style. Instead, Romanticism included William Blake's disquieting apparition The Ghost of a Flea (1819-20), sitting in close chronological proximity to John Constable's comfortably rural landscape The Hay Wain (1821). Pick a mood, any mood, and there was some Romantic artist that conveyed it on canvas.
Romanticism wasn't like Impressionism, where everyone concentrated on painting the effects of light using loose brushwork. Romantic art ranged from the smooth-as-glass, highly-detailed, monumental canvas Death of Sardanapalus (1827) by Eugène Delacroix, to J. M. W. Turner's indistinct watercolor washes in The Lake of Zug (1843), and everything in between. Technique was all over the map; execution was completely up to the artist. Romanticism wasn't like Dada, whose artists were making specific statements about WWI and/or the pretentious absurdities of the Art World. Romantic artists were apt to make statements about anything (or nothing), dependent on how an individual artist felt about any given topic on any given day. Francisco de Goya's work explored madness and oppression, while Caspar David Friedrich found endless inspiration in moonlight and fog. The will of the Romantic artist had the final say on subject matter.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Young Girl Reading, 1868
Jean-François Millet, A Norman Milkmaid at Gréville, 1871
Ilya Repin, Barge Haulers on the Volga, 1870–1873
Realism in the arts may be generally defined as the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, implausible, exotic and supernatural elements
In general, Realists depicted everyday subjects and situations in contemporary settings, and attempted to depict individuals of all social classes in a similar manner. Classical idealism and Romantic emotionalism and drama were avoided equally, and often sordid or untidy elements of subjects were not smoothed over or omitted. Social realism emphasizes the depiction of the working class, and treating them with the same seriousness as other classes in art, but realism, as the avoidance of artificiality, in the treatment of human relations and emotions was also an aim of Realism. Treatments of subjects in a heroic or sentimental manner were equally rejected. As an art movement Realism was a reaction in the mid 19th century against what was seen as the artificiality of Romanticism, led by Courbet in France. It spread across Europe and was influential for the rest of the century and beyond, but as it became adopted into the mainstream of painting it becomes less common and useful as a term to define artistic style. After the arrival of Impressionism and later movements which downgraded the importance of precise illusionistic brushwork it often came to refer simply to the use of a more traditional and tighter painting style. It has been used for a number of later movements and trends in art, some involving careful illusionistic representation, such as Photorealism, and others the depiction of "realist" subject matter in a social sense, or attempts at both.