Realism – definition and means of expression.
The development of realism, as a specific method of reflecting the phenomena of the surrounding world in a work of art, generally falls into the second half of the 19th century. At the source of the realistic concept of art is the rationalism of the Enlightenment era, which advocates exploring the world through reason, rationalism later enriched by Feuerbach's theory of the objective existence of nature, and therefore independent of man, his personal feelings and impressions. The philosophy of historical materialism of Marx and Engels became the crowning achievement of the materialist conception of nature, according to which man - a knowing being - is not only a part of nature, but also a part of society, in which he lives, together with which it is subject to the processes of historical development, with which it co-creates a new social reality.
Thus, the theory of realism derived from such sources proclaims not only the necessity of reflecting objectively existing nature with man as its component in a work of art. (classicism of the Enlightenment did), but also the need to reveal the processes taking place in social reality, in interpersonal relations, and even the necessity to study the laws governing society with artistic means. No wonder, that progressive ideas, which intensified the revolutionary mood in the second half of the 19th century, they referred in art to the realistic method as the only one, capable of being right, because objective, interpreting social phenomena and changes.
In terms of formal assumptions, the realists drew conclusions from the directions closest to them: classicism and romanticism.
The composition of paintings by realists is basically linear perspective, according to the law of the apparent convergence of lines running in depth, towards our gaze and the law of the apparent reduction of objects as they move away from the viewer's eye. However, while the classicists used the linear perspective with a cool one, an absolute consequence (like for example. David in the Horatio Oath), realists compose their works much more freely, taking into account random situations, that creates everyday life. In terms of color, the realists basically use the local color, i.e. consistent with the color of objects in nature under normal lighting (np. the crowns of the trees are green, house tile - red, rock - grey-brown, etc.), but, unlike the classics, they are alive, personal and emotional relationship to nature causes, that they often notice and note in their paintings unexpected and unforeseen phenomena, like for example. color reflections, the dependence of the color of objects on their colorful surroundings, etc. One can see here the undoubted influence of the older Romantics and their peers (np. Delacroix). Romanticism also revived the palette of realists and encouraged them to use stronger ones, bolder color contrasts.
Realists use chiaroscuro modeling to bring out the materiality of objects, based on the gradation of light intensity depending on the position of the object in relation to its source and differentiation, and the texture observed in the Romantics. The untouched trace of the brushstroke manifests a personal one, the vivid attitude of the artist to the imagined subject.
As far as the themes of their works are concerned, realists are initially interested in genre scenes and landscapes (np. Barbizonians). Then they increasingly saturate their paintings with social and ideological content. Equal heroes are the workers and peasants recreated in everyday life and work (np. the Courbet, Without what, Kotsisa, Szermentowski, in Meunier's sculpture), and many realistic works are imbued with a clearly progressive and even revolutionary idea (np. at Daumier or at Russian progressive painters, associated in the Society of Traveling Exhibitions, called pieredwiżniki).