Sunday, January 27, 2013

Realism vs. Romanticism

Moving forward to the Revolution in the Arts, in this post I'm going to talk about the Romanticism and the Realism, which are really different, almost opposite to each other, even though they developed around the same time and space. 


Romanticism is an artistic, intellectual and literary movement that originated in Europe against the ideas of rationalization, which left out the feelings of a person  to talk only about the facts, the things that could be seen and thought of. Mostly, romanticism was embedded into the arts and literature, but it also had a strong impact in historiography, education and natural sciences. Romanticism was based on the expression of strong emotions, such as apprehension, horror, terror, and awe.

Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, 1818
This is a great example of a Romantic painting. You may say: "What's the Romantic thing about it? It's just a man standing in some rocks." But if you think about it you can understand the strong emotions in the artist: the feeling of awe when he thought he had reached the summit of life and saw that there was still a long way to go, forward to the unknown above a sea of fog. You may think that this painting has been forgotten, or is only remembered by those who love and study the History of the Arts, but in fact, it is seen often in our modern lives, inspiring different people to do different things. 

All of these movie posters are inspired in Caspar David Friedrich's painting, as it is easy to observe.


Realism, on the other hand, attempted to depict things just as they are seen by a third person point of view, without expressing emotions or feelings, expressing just what the eye can see or the ear can listen. Realism is totally independent from the man's feelings, schemes or mental maps. Realists positioned themselves against the Romanticism, which was growing in France by that time. It believed in the objective reality and began a revolution against the strong emotions expressed in Romanticism. The truth and accuracy became the goals of most Realists, and when photography arrived it was much easier to grow in Realism.

Oswald Achenbach, Abendstimmung in der Campagna, 1850.
This painting by Oswald Achenbach is a beautiful example of Realistic paintings. As you can see, it depicts the scene just as a person would see it, the light, the sheep, the whole landscape makes you feel as if you are there. There's no emotion and nothing left for the imagination. You can do nothing more but to admire the landscape, the light of the sunrise, the colors of that place. Landscapes like this one often are depicted in Realistic paintings. Still, nowadays Realism is based more on photography.

This photograph shows us how Realism is nowadays thanks to photography

1 comment:

  1. This is particularly good, with great examples. You are quite right about the movie posters being based on the Friedrich painting.

    I like the Achenbach painting and the street photograph, too.