In 1952-4 it staged solo exhibitions for four young British realist painters John Bratby, Derrick Greaves, Edward Middleditch and Jack Smith, known subsequently as the Beaux Arts Quartet, and from December 1954, were also renowned as the Kitchen Sink painters.
Rebelling against avant-garde art, they proclaimed the supremacy of portraying traditional subjects in a realist manner, so as to make art more understandable and socially relevant.
Thereafter, caused partly by the huge social changes triggered by the Industrial Revolution, there was a greater focus on realism of subject - that is, subject matter the high art tradition.
"Realism sets itself at work to consider characters and events which are apparently the most ordinary and uninteresting, in order to extract from these their full value and true meaning. It would apprehend in all particulars the connection between the familiar and the extraordinary, and the seen and unseen of human nature. Beneath the deceptive cloak of outwardly uneventful days, it detects and endeavors to trace the outlines of the spirits that are hidden there; tho measure the changes in their growth, to watch the symptoms of moral decay or regeneration, to fathom their histories of passionate or intellectual problems. In short, realism reveals. Where we thought nothing worth of notice, it shows everything to be rife with significance."
-- George Parsons Lathrop, 'The Novel and its Future," 34 (September 1874):313 24.
"The basic axiom of the realistic view of morality was that there could be no moralizing in the novel [ . . . ] The morality of the realists, then, was built upon what appears a paradox--morality with an abhorrence of moralizing. Their ethical beliefs called, first of all, for a rejection of scheme of moral behavior imposed, from without, upon the characters of fiction and their actions. Yet Howells always claimed for his works a deep moral purpose. What was it? It was based upon three propositions: that life, social life as lived in the world Howells knew, was valuable, and was permeated with morality; that its continued health depended upon the use of human reason to overcome the anarchic selfishness of human passions; that an objective portrayal of human life, by art, will illustrate the superior value of social, civilized man, of human reason over animal passion and primitive ignorance" (157). Everett Carter, (Philadelphia and New York: Lippincott, 1954).
The term describes a type of literature that attempts to apply scientific principles of objectivity and detachment to its study of human beings. Unlike realism, which focuses on literary technique, naturalism implies a philosophical position: for naturalistic writers, since human beings are, in Emile Zola's phrase, "human beasts," characters can be studied through their relationships to their surroundings. Zola's 1880 description of this method in (1880) follows Claude Bernard's medical model and the historian Hippolyte Taine's observation that "virtue and vice are products like vitriol and sugar"--that is, that human beings as"products" should be studied impartially, without moralizing about their natures. Other influences on American naturalists include Herbert Spencer and Joseph LeConte.
For example, landscape artists went out to the provinces in search of the 'real' France, setting up artistic colonies in places like , and later at Grez-Sur-Loing, Pont-Aven, and Concarneau.
Broadly defined as "the faithful representation of reality" or "verisimilitude," realism is a literary technique practiced by many schools of writing. Although strictly speaking, realism is a technique, it also denotes a particular kind of subject matter, especially the representation of middle-class life. A reaction against romanticism, an interest in scientific method, the systematizing of the study of documentary history, and the influence of rational philosophy all affected the rise of realism. According to William Harmon and Hugh Holman, "Where romanticists transcend the immediate to find the ideal, and naturalists plumb the actual or superficial to find the scientific laws that control its actions, realists center their attention to a remarkable degree on the immediate, the here and now, the specific action, and the verifiable consequence" ( 428).
Not surprisingly, this gritty approach shocked many of the upper and middle class patrons of the arts, both in France and in the of England, where Realism was never fully embraced.
"Realism, n. The art of depicting nature as it is seen by toads. The charm suffusing a landscape painted by a mole, or a story written by a measuring-worm." --Ambrose Bierce (1911)
In its own time, realism was the subject of controversy; debates over the suitability of realism as a mode of representation led to a critical exchange known as the realism war.
It is worth noting at the outsetthat scientific realism emerges from a tradition of thought in empiricistphilosophy of science; but that it provides the basis for a cogent critique ofmany early positivist assumptions. In particular, scientific realists haverejected (obviously) the instrumentalism associated with logical positivism;the assumption that all scientific knowledge takes the form of empiricalregularities; the assumption that the ultimate goal of scientific research isthe formulation of lawlike generalizations; and, to some extent, the assumptionthat the hypothetico-deductive model is the unavoidable foundation of empiricalreasoning in the sciences. Scientific realism is therefore a sympathetic basisin the philosophy of social science for those philosophers and sociologists whoare most concerned to put aside the positivist origins of both philosophy ofscience and sociology. Mario Bunge argues strongly that scientific realism ismost suited to an appropriate methodology for the social sciences; (Bunge1993).
The realism of James and Twain was critically acclaimed in the twentieth century. Howellsian realism fell into disfavor, however, as part of early twentieth century rebellion against the "genteel tradition." For an account of these and other issues, see the and essays by Pizer, Michael Anesko, Richard Lehan, and Louis J. Budd, among others, in the .