Elements of realism

25 May – 24 June 2017

Show me an angel and I will paint one. The words of Gustave Courbet aptly describes the realist movement. Coming to life around the 1850’s, this art form rests on the idea that everyday life and the world around us be suitable subjects for art.

Realism was the first statement against the institution of the state and started a non-conformist movement among artists at the time. Post-revolution France saw newspaper printing and mass media gaining unprecedented popularity in the wake of the industrial revolution. Artists like Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet exploited this new found media frenzy to enhance their public status.

The unblemished nature and rejection of idealism of this new movement sought to highlight inequalities of the ruling monarchy and embraced progressive modernism; ideas typically in the spotlight after tumultuous times in France.

Some well-known works of the time include The Gleaners by Jean Francois Millet, The Stone Breakers by Gustave Courbet and Third Class Carriage by Honore Daumier. These works notably showing how life was structured socially, economically, politically and culturally at the time.

Elements of Realism Exhibition Catalogue