What Kind of Art is Mine? - Visual Arts and Other Topics
I try, with these articles, to talk about art, in general, its concepts and meanings, as well as its importance to society. But among all that exists in the art world, among all existing styles and techniques, I chose to follow a certain current, the Traditionalist Art and the realistic style. Since I intend to write more about this in other topics, I will try to be brief on this point and try, for academic reasons and interest, explain what kind of art is this.
But among many "styles ", where do I fit in?
Well, simply and directly, I work with visual arts. But things are more complicated than that. As a painter I can say that I work with illustrative art. And that means that I produce something to be looked at, to be enjoyed, as an image. It’s a very specific form of interaction. So I designate myself as a naturalist and realist painter. And that means that I try to create an image that represents something tangible, and that may convey emotions. I do not know much about abstract art, installations, etc., and I do not try to create something abstract that tries to express emotions by force, perhaps even shocking somehow the audience by doing that.
Now an important question must be asked: Realism or realistic art?*
Realism is an artistic and literary movement that emerged in the last decades of the nineteenth century in France, as a reaction to Romanticism. Between 1850 and 1880 this cultural movement had spread to Europe and other continents. It was a new esthetic trend, which came about along side the industrialization of societies. The European man, having learned how to use scientific knowledge and his skills to interpret and dominate nature, convinced himself that he needed to be realistic, even on his artistic creations. The members of this movement repudiated the artificiality of Neoclassicism and Romanticism (and the concept of idealization), because they felt the need to portray the lives, problems and customs of the middle and lower classes, without artistic conventions inspired by models from the past. The movement also manifested itself in sculpture, and especially in architecture.
In the arts, Realism, as an artistic movement, can be defined as an attempt to represent the chosen subject without artificiality, and avoiding conventions and exoticism, and implausible or supernatural elements. In painting, the artist seeks to represent reality with the same objectivity that a scientist studies a natural phenomenon. In other words, the painter seeks to represent the world in a documentary way, rejecting idealization and focusing on the daily life. The artist does not try to "improve" artistically nature because beauty is seen in reality as it is. According to the Realist movement, the beauty is, above all, the ability of the artist to represent nature realistically, having the represented object a charismatic value or not.
But what about Naturalism?
Naturalism (not to be confused with naturism or naturalistic philosophy) is a literary school known for being the radicalization of Realism, relying on the faithful observation of reality and experience, showing that the individuality is determined by environment and heredity. It concerns the study of nature and the interpretation of the laws of physics and science. The school has outlined what can be declared as the first steps of the evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin’s thoughts. Naturalism is, as opposed to supernatural or spiritual, the idea or belief that only natural laws and forces operate in the world; in extension, the idea or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world. The supporters of naturalism - Naturalists - claim that natural laws are rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe and that each stage of the evolution of the universe is a product of these laws. Naturalism, as a way of conceiving the universe, is one of the pillars of modern science, being also target of philosophical considerations.
Thus, Naturalism is a philosophical movement that values the natural world and in the world of arts, acts giving force to Realism, and these two concepts are directly linked.
However, and here is the answer to the question*, Realism as an artistic movement of the nineteenth century, which was characterized by the opposition to the idealism of classical, romantic and academic Schools, should not be confused with realistic techniques used on works of art, i.e., with the care of the artist to reproduce the images (visual arts) as he sees in reality. Realistic techniques for painting and sculpting have been around since at least the classic age, and were and still are used by many Schools (like the Surrealist, for example)
This means that there is a clear definition between Realism, the art movement, and realistic art - art made with certain techniques that represent the object in a realistic manner -, although both can be connected and influence each other. In other words, Realism and Realistic Art are different things, and a surrealist painting, although belonging to the Surrealism movement, can be made with realistic techniques, and it is, so to speak, a realistic painting.