Social realism
Overview
Social Realism, also known as Socio-Realism, is an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts
Realism (arts)
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...

, which depicts social and racial injustice, economic hardship, through unvarnished pictures of life's struggles; often depicting working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 activities as heroic. The movement is a style of painting in which the scenes depicted typically convey a message of social or political protest edged with satire.
Encyclopedia
Social Realism, also known as Socio-Realism, is an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts
Realism (arts)
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...

, which depicts social and racial injustice, economic hardship, through unvarnished pictures of life's struggles; often depicting working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 activities as heroic. The movement is a style of painting in which the scenes depicted typically convey a message of social or political protest edged with satire. This is not to be confused with Socialist Realism
Socialist realism
Socialist realism is a style of realistic art which was developed in the Soviet Union and became a dominant style in other communist countries. Socialist realism is a teleologically-oriented style having its purpose the furtherance of the goals of socialism and communism...

, the official USSR art form that was institutionalized by Joseph Stalin in 1934 and later allied Communist parties worldwide.

Art movement

Social Realism became an important art movement
Art movement
An art movement is a tendency or style in art with a specific common philosophy or goal, followed by a group of artists during a restricted period of time, or, at least, with the heyday of the movement defined within a number of years...

 during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 in the United States in the 1930s. As an American artistic movement it is closely related to American scene painting
American scene painting
American scene painting refers to a naturalist style of painting and other works of art of the 1920s through the 1950s in the United States. American scene painting is also known as Regionalism....

 and to Regionalism
Regionalism (art)
Regionalism is an American realist modern art movement that was popular during the 1930s. The artistic focus was from artists who shunned city life, and rapidly developing technological advances, to create scenes of rural life...

. American Social Realism includes the works of such artists as those from the Ashcan School
Ashcan School
The Ashcan School, also called the Ash Can School, is defined as a realist artistic movement that came into prominence in the United States during the early twentieth century, best known for works portraying scenes of daily life in New York's poorer neighborhoods. The movement grew out of a group...

 including Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper was a prominent American realist painter and printmaker. While most popularly known for his oil paintings, he was equally proficient as a watercolorist and printmaker in etching...

, and Thomas Hart Benton
Thomas Hart Benton (painter)
Thomas Hart Benton was an American painter and muralist. Along with Grant Wood and John Steuart Curry, he was at the forefront of the Regionalist art movement. His fluid, almost sculpted paintings showed everyday scenes of life in the United States...

, Will Barnet
Will Barnet
Will Barnet is an American artist known for his paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints depicting the human figure and animals, both in casual scenes of daily life and in transcendent dreamlike worlds.-Biography:...

, Ben Shahn
Ben Shahn
Ben Shahn was a Lithuanian-born American artist. He is best known for his works of social realism, his left-wing political views, and his series of lectures published as The Shape of Content.-Biography:...

, Jacob Lawrence
Jacob Lawrence
Jacob Lawrence was an American painter; he was married to fellow artist Gwendolyn Knight. Lawrence referred to his style as "dynamic cubism", though by his own account the primary influence was not so much French art as the shapes and colors of Harlem.Lawrence is among the best-known twentieth...

, Paul Meltsner
Paul Meltsner
Paul Raphael Meltsner was an American artist who was widely recognized for his WPA era paintings and lithographs, and who was later known for his iconic portraits of celebrities in the performing arts.-Education and training:...

, Romare Bearden
Romare Bearden
Romare Bearden was an African American artist and writer. He worked in several media including cartoons, oils, and collage.-Education:...

, Rafael Soyer, Isaac Soyer
Isaac Soyer
Isaac Soyer was a social realist painter and often portrayed working-class people of New York City in his paintings.-Biography:...

, Moses Soyer
Moses Soyer
-Biography:Soyer was born in Borisoglebsk, Russia in 1899. His father was a Hebrew scholar, writer and teacher. His family emigrated to the USA in 1912. Soyer's brothers, Raphael and Isaac were also painters...

, Reginald Marsh
Reginald Marsh (artist)
Reginald Marsh was an American painter, born in Paris, most notable for his depictions of life in New York City in the 1920s and 1930s. Crowded Coney Island beach scenes, popular entertainments such as vaudeville and burlesque, women, and jobless men on the Bowery are subjects that reappear...

, John Steuart Curry
John Steuart Curry
John Steuart Curry was an American painter whose career spanned from 1924 until his death. He was noted for his paintings depicting life in his home state, Kansas...

, Arnold Blanch
Arnold Blanch
Arnold Blanch , was born and raised in Mantorville, Minnesota. He was an American modernist painter, etcher, illustrator, lithographer, muralist, printmaker and art teacher. His modernist paintings are associated with the Social Realist movement. Blanch met his first wife the painter Lucile Blanch,...

, Aaron Douglas
Aaron Douglas
Aaron Douglas was an African American painter and a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance.-Early life:...

, Grant Wood
Grant Wood
Grant DeVolson Wood was an American painter, born four miles east of Anamosa, Iowa. He is best known for his paintings depicting the rural American Midwest, particularly the painting American Gothic, an iconic image of the 20th century.- Life and career :His family moved to Cedar Rapids after his...

, Horace Pippin
Horace Pippin
Horace Pippin was a self-taught African-American painter. The injustice of slavery and American segregation figure prominently in many of his works.-Biography:...

, Walt Kuhn
Walt Kuhn
Walt Kuhn was an American painter and was an organizer of the modern art Armory Show of 1913, which was the first of its genre in America.-Biography:Kuhn was born in Brooklyn, New York City...

, Isabel Bishop
Isabel Bishop
Isabel Bishop was an American painter and graphic artist, who produced numerous paintings and prints of working women in realistic urban settings...

, Paul Cadmus
Paul Cadmus
Paul Cadmus was an American artist. He is best known for his paintings and drawings of nude male figures. His works combined elements of eroticism and social critique to produce a style often called magic realism...

, Doris Lee
Doris Lee
Doris Emrick Lee was born in Illinois and was an American folk artist who was known for her figurative painting and printmaking. She won the Logan Medal of the arts from the Chicago Art Institute in 1935....

, Philip Evergood
Philip Evergood
Philip Howard Francis Dixon Evergood was an American painter, etcher, lithographer, sculptor, illustrator and writer. He was particularly active during the Depression and World War II era.-Life:...

, Mitchell Siporin
Mitchell Siporin
-Biography:Mitchell Siporin was born in New York City and grew up in Chicago. Through the Works Progress Administration, he worked as a painter. Together with Edward Milman, he painted the frescoes in the Central Post Office in St Louis. From 1946 to 1949, he served in the army in North Africa and...

, Robert Gwathmey
Robert Gwathmey
Robert Gwathmey was an American social realist painter. His wife was photographer Rosalie Gwathmey and his son was architect Charles Gwathmey.-References:...

, Adolf Dehn
Adolf Dehn
Adolf Dehn was born in Waterville, Minnesota, November 22, 1895 and he died in New York City, May 19 1968. Two-time recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Dehn was one of the most notable lithographers of the 20th century...

, Harry Sternberg
Harry Sternberg
Harry Sternberg was an American painter, printmaker and educator. He was born in New York City on July 19, 1904 and died in Escondido, California on November 27, 2001.-Childhood, family life, and education:...

, Louis Lozowick
Louis Lozowick
Louis Lozowick was an American painter and a printmaker. He was born in Russian Empire , came to United States in 1906, and died in New Jersey in 1973...

, William Gropper
William Gropper
William Victor "Bill" Gropper , was a U.S. cartoonist, painter, lithographer, and muralist. A committed radical, Gropper is best known for the political work which he contributed to such left wing publications as The Revolutionary Age, The Liberator, The New Masses, The Worker, and The Morning...

, Philip Guston
Philip Guston
Philip Guston was a notable painter and printmaker in the New York School, which included many of the Abstract expressionists, such as Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning...

, Jack Levine
Jack Levine
Jack Levine was an American Social Realist painter and printmaker best known for his satires on modern life, political corruption, and biblical narratives.-Biography:...

, Ralph Ward Stackpole, John Augustus Walker
John Augustus Walker
John Augustus Walker was a well-known Alabama Gulf Coast artist of the Depression era who was commissioned to undertake several art projects for the Works Progress Administration.-Early life:...

 and others. It also extends to the art of photography as exemplified by the works of Walker Evans
Walker Evans
Walker Evans was an American photographer best known for his work for the Farm Security Administration documenting the effects of the Great Depression. Much of Evans's work from the FSA period uses the large-format, 8x10-inch camera...

, Dorothea Lange
Dorothea Lange
Dorothea Lange was an influential American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration...

, Margaret Bourke-White
Margaret Bourke-White
Margaret Bourke-White was an American photographer and documentary photographer. She is best known as the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet Industry, the first female war correspondent and the first female photographer for Henry Luce's Life magazine, where her...

, Lewis Hine
Lewis Hine
Lewis Wickes Hine was an American sociologist and photographer. Hine used his camera as a tool for social reform. His photographs were instrumental in changing the child labor laws in the United States.-Early life:...

, Edward Steichen
Edward Steichen
Edward J. Steichen was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator. He was the most frequently featured photographer in Alfred Stieglitz' groundbreaking magazine Camera Work during its run from 1903 to 1917. Steichen also contributed the logo design and a custom typeface...

, Gordon Parks
Gordon Parks
Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was a groundbreaking American photographer, musician, poet, novelist, journalist, activist and film director...

, Arthur Rothstein
Arthur Rothstein
Arthur Rothstein was an American photographer.Rothstein is recognized as one of America’s premier photojournalists. During a career that spanned five decades, he provoked, entertained and informed the American people...

, Marion Post Wolcott
Marion Post Wolcott
Marion Post was a noted photographer who worked for the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression documenting poverty and deprivation. She was born in New Jersey. Her parents split up and she was sent to boarding school, spending time at home with her mother in Greenwich Village...

, Doris Ulmann
Doris Ulmann
Doris Ulmann was an American photographer, best known for her dignified portraits of the people of Appalachia, particularly craftsmen and musicians such as Jean Ritchie's family, made between 1928 and 1934.-Life and career:...

, Berenice Abbott
Berenice Abbott
Berenice Abbott , born Bernice Abbott, was an American photographer best known for her black-and-white photography of New York City architecture and urban design of the 1930s.-Youth:...

, Aaron Siskind
Aaron Siskind
Aaron Siskind was an American abstract expressionist photographer. In his biography he wrote that he began his foray into photography when he received a camera for a wedding gift and began taking pictures on his honeymoon. He quickly realized the artistic potential this offered...

, Russell Lee
Russell Lee (photographer)
Russell Lee was an American photographer and photojournalist.Lee had trained as a chemical engineer, and in the fall of 1936 became a member of the team of photographers assembled under Roy Stryker for the federally sponsored Farm Security Administration documentation project...

, Ben Shahn
Ben Shahn
Ben Shahn was a Lithuanian-born American artist. He is best known for his works of social realism, his left-wing political views, and his series of lectures published as The Shape of Content.-Biography:...

 (as a photographer) and Manuel Rivera-Ortiz
Manuel Rivera-Ortiz
Manuel Rivera-Ortiz is an American documentary photographer of Puerto Rican descent, the author of several photographic collections and the recipient of a number of awards. He is best known for his documentary photographs of people's living conditions in less developed countries...

 among several others.

In Mexico the painter Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo de Rivera was a Mexican painter, born in Coyoacán, and perhaps best known for her self-portraits....

 is associated with the social realism movement. Also in Mexico was the Mexican muralist movement
Mexican Muralism
Mexican muralism is a Mexican art movement. The most important period of this movement took place primarily from the 1920s to the 1960s, though it exerted an influence on later generations of Mexican artists...

 that took place primarily in the 1920s and 1930s; and was an inspiration to many artists north of the border and an important component of the social realism movement. The Mexican muralist movement is characterized by its political undertones, the majority of which are of a Marxist nature, and the social and political situation of post-revolutionary Mexico. Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera
Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez was a prominent Mexican painter born in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, an active communist, and husband of Frida Kahlo . His large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in...

, David Alfaro Siqueiros
David Alfaro Siqueiros
José David Alfaro Siqueiros was a social realist painter, known for his large murals in fresco that helped establish the Mexican Mural Renaissance, together with works by Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, and also a member of the Mexican Communist Party who participated in an...

, José Clemente Orozco
José Clemente Orozco
José Clemente Orozco was a Mexican social realist painter, who specialized in bold murals that established the Mexican Mural Renaissance together with murals by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and others...

, and Rufino Tamayo
Rufino Tamayo
Rufino Tamayo was a Mexican painter of Zapotec heritage, born in Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico. Tamayo was active in the mid-20th century in Mexico and New York, painting figurative abstraction with surrealist influences....

 are the best known proponents of the movement. Santiago Martínez Delgado
Santiago Martínez Delgado
Santiago Martínez Delgado was a Colombian painter, sculptor, art historian and writer. He established a reputation as a prominent muralist during the 1940s and is also known for his watercolors, oil paintings, illustrations and woodcarvings....

, Jorge González Camarena
Jorge González Camarena
Jorge González Camarena was a prominent Mexican painter, muralist and sculptor who received the Mexican National Prize for Arts and Sciences...

, Roberto Montenegro
Roberto Montenegro
Roberto Montenegro Nervo was a Mexican painter, illustrator, and stage designer....

, Federico Cantú Garza, and Jean Charlot
Jean Charlot
Louis Henri Jean Charlot was a French painter and illustrator, active in Mexico and the United States. Charlot was born in Paris. His father, Henri, owned an import-export business and was a Russian-born émigré, albeit one who supported the Bolshevik cause. His mother Anna was herself an artist...

, as well as several other artists participated in the movement.

The term dates on a broader scale to the Realist movement in French art during the mid-19th century. Social Realism in the 20th century refers back to the works of the French artist Gustave Courbet
Gustave Courbet
Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting. The Realist movement bridged the Romantic movement , with the Barbizon School and the Impressionists...

 and in particular to the implications of his 19th-century paintings A Burial at Ornans
A Burial At Ornans
A Burial At Ornans is a painting of 1849–50 by Gustave Courbet, and one of the major turning points of 19th-century French art. The painting records the funeral in September 1848 of his great-uncle in the painter's birthplace, the small town of Ornans...

and The Stone Breakers
The Stone Breakers
The Stone Breakers was an 1849–50 painting by the French painter Gustave Courbet. It was a work of social realism, depicting two peasants, a young man and an old man, breaking rocks.The painting was first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1850...

, which scandalized French Salon–goers of 1850, and is seen as an international phenomenon also traced back to European Realism and the works of Honoré Daumier
Honoré Daumier
Honoré Daumier was a French printmaker, caricaturist, painter, and sculptor, whose many works offer commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th century....

 and Jean-François Millet
Jean-François Millet
Jean-François Millet was a French painter and one of the founders of the Barbizon school in rural France...

. The Social Realist style fell-out of fashion in the 1960s but is still influential in thinking and the art of today.

Many artists who subscribed to Social Realism were painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

s with socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 (but not necessarily Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

) political views. The movement therefore has some commonalities with the Socialist Realism used in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

, but the two are not identical - Social Realism is not an official art, and allows space for subjectivity
Subject (philosophy)
In philosophy, a subject is a being that has subjective experiences, subjective consciousness or a relationship with another entity . A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed...

. In certain contexts, Socialist Realism has been described as a specific branch of Social Realism.

Social Realism has been summarized as follows:
Social Realism developed as a reaction against idealism and the exaggerated ego encouraged by Romanticism. Consequences of the Industrial Revolution became apparent; urban centers grew, slums proliferated on a new scale contrasting with the display of wealth of the upper classes. With a new sense of social consciousness, the Social Realists pledged to “fight the beautiful art”, any style which appealed to the eye or emotions. They focused on the ugly realities of contemporary life and sympathized with working-class people, particularly the poor. They recorded what they saw (“as it existed”) in a dispassionate manner. The public was outraged by Social Realism, in part, because they didn't know how to look at it or what to do with it (George Shi, University of Fine Arts, Valencia)

In film

Social Realism in cinema is a style that finds its roots in the Italian neorealism
Italian neorealism
Italian neorealism is a style of film characterized by stories set amongst the poor and working class, filmed on location, frequently using nonprofessional actors...

 movement known for naturalistic, substance-over-style works of filmmakers such as Roberto Rossellini
Roberto Rossellini
Roberto Rossellini was an Italian film director and screenwriter. Rossellini was one of the directors of the Italian neorealist cinema, contributing films such as Roma città aperta to the movement.-Early life:Born in Rome, Roberto Rossellini lived on the Via Ludovisi, where Benito Mussolini had...

, Vittorio De Sica
Vittorio de Sica
Vittorio De Sica was an Italian director and actor, a leading figure in the neorealist movement....

 and, to some extent, Federico Fellini
Federico Fellini
Federico Fellini, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI , was an Italian film director and scriptwriter. Known for a distinct style that blends fantasy and baroque images, he is considered one of the most influential and widely revered filmmakers of the 20th century...

, but is considered Britain's main form of cinematic style. For Britons, their early cinema used common social interaction found in Dickens and Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, OM was an English novelist and poet. While his works typically belong to the Naturalism movement, several poems display elements of the previous Romantic and Enlightenment periods of literature, such as his fascination with the supernatural.While he regarded himself primarily as a...

. One of the first British films to emphasize realism's value as social protest was the 1902 film from U.K. director and Scottish born film pioneer James Williamson
James Williamson
James Robert Williamson is an American guitarist, songwriter, record producer and electronics engineer who is best known for his contribution to the protopunk rock band Iggy & The Stooges.-Early years:...

, A Reservist Before the War, and After the War which memorialized the Boer War
Boer War
The Boer Wars were two wars fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics, the Oranje Vrijstaat and the Republiek van Transvaal ....

 serviceman coming back home to unemployment. Repressive censorship during 1945-1954 prevented British films from more radical social positions.

Social realism was also adopted by Hindi films
Bollywood
Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai , Maharashtra, India. The term is often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; it is only a part of the total Indian film industry, which includes other production centers producing...

 of the 1940s and 1950s, including Chetan Anand
Chetan Anand (producer & director)
Chetan Anand was an acclaimed Hindi film producer, screenwriter and director from India, whose debut film, Neecha Nagar, bagged the Palme d'Or award, at the Cannes Film Festival in 1946....

's Neecha Nagar
Neecha Nagar
Neecha Nagar is a 1946 Hindi film directed by Chetan Anand. Written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, this film was a pioneering effort in social realism in Indian cinema, and paved the way for many such 'Parallel Cinema' films by other directors and many of them written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas...

(1946) which won the Palme d'Or
Palme d'Or
The Palme d'Or is the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival and is presented to the director of the best feature film of the official competition. It was introduced in 1955 by the organising committee. From 1939 to 1954, the highest prize was the Grand Prix du Festival International du...

 at the first Cannes Film Festival
1946 Cannes Film Festival
The 1st Cannes Film Festival was held from September 20 to October 5, 1946.- Jury :*Georges Huisman *Iris Barry *Beaulieu *Antonin Brousil *J.H.J...

, and Bimal Roy
Bimal Roy
Bimal Roy was one of the most acclaimed Indian film directors of all time. He is particularly noted for his realistic and socialistic films like Do Bigha Zamin, Parineeta, Biraj Bahu, Madhumati, Sujata, and Bandini, making him an important director of Hindi cinema...

's Two Acres of Land (1953) which won the International Prize at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival
1954 Cannes Film Festival
-Jury:*Jean Cocteau *Jean Aurenche *André Bazin *Luis Buñuel*Henri Calef *Guy Desson *Philippe Erlanger *Michel Fourre-Cormeray *Jacques-Pierre Frogerais...

. This in turn gave rise to the Indian New Wave
Parallel Cinema
The Indian New Wave, commonly known in India as Art Cinema or Parallel Cinema as an alternative to the mainstream commercial cinema, is a specific movement in Indian cinema, known for its serious content, realism and naturalism, with a keen eye on the sociopolitical climate of the times...

, with early Bengali art films
Bengali cinema
Bengali cinema refers to the Bengali language filmmaking industries in the Bengal region of South Asia. There are two major film-making hubs in the region: one in Kolkata, West Bengal, India and the other in Dhaka, Bangladesh .The history of cinema in Bengal dates back to the 1890s, when the first...

 such as Ritwik Ghatak's Nagarik
Nagarik
Nagarik ,also spelled as Nagorik, The Citizen in English, was the first feature-length film directed by Indian director Ritwik Ghatak. Completed in 1952, it preceded Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali as perhaps, the first example of an art film in Bengali cinema, but is deprived of that honor, since...

(1952) and Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray was an Indian Bengali filmmaker. He is regarded as one of the greatest auteurs of 20th century cinema. Ray was born in the city of Kolkata into a Bengali family prominent in the world of arts and literature...

's The Apu Trilogy (1955–1959). Realism in Indian cinema
Cinema of India
The cinema of India consists of films produced across India, which includes the cinematic culture of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal. Indian films came to be followed throughout South Asia and...

 dates back even earlier to the 1920s and 1930s, with early examples including V. Shantaram
V. Shantaram
V. Shantaram is a renowned Indian filmmaker, film producer and actor. He is most known for his films like Dr...

's films Indian Shylock (1925) and The Unexpected (1937).

The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 was one of the last countries to adopt this form of style in cinema. Kine Weekly, marketed as an invaluable record of British film and television industries development, in 1947 wrote, "Americans have shown [sic] they want pictures reflecting the simple emotions. We are trying to crash into their market by offering them gloom-sadism-and-soft-focus. We must aim at the box office and not the art gallery. It is no good aiming over their heads. It will not help us earn dollars.” British Social Realism cinema has an objective distancing from what the characters think and feel, or a naturalism in its character spines.

In France and the Soviet Union


Realism, a style of painting that depicts the actuality of what the eyes can see, was a very popular art form in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 around the mid-to-late 19th century. It came about with the introduction of photography
Photography
Photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film...

 - a new visual source that created a desire for people to produce things that look “objectively real” . Realism was heavily against romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

, a genre dominating French literature and artwork in the mid-19th century. Undistorted by personal bias, Realism believed in the ideology of external reality and revolted against exaggerated emotionalism
Emotionalism
Emotionalism, in its meaning as a research paradigm, refers to an approach to conducting research studies that provides a gateway to understanding people's experiences through the use of social inquiry methodologies such as ethnography....

. Truth and accuracy became the goals of many Realists.

From that important trend of Realism in France, came the development of Socialist Realism, which was to dominate Soviet culture and artistic expression for over 60 years. Socialist Realism, representing socialist ideologies, was an art movement that represented social and political contemporary life in the 1930s, from a left-wing standpoint. It depicted subjects of social concern; the proletariat
Proletariat
The proletariat is a term used to identify a lower social class, usually the working class; a member of such a class is proletarian...

 struggle - hardships of every day life that the working class had to put up with, and heroically emphasized the values of the loyal communist workers. Social Realism was critical of the social environment
Social environment
The social environment of an individual, also called social context or milieu, is the culture that s/he was educated or lives in, and the people and institutions with whom the person interacts....

 that caused the conditions pictured, and denounced the “evil” Tsarist period. Ilya Repin, a famous Social Realist said that his art work was aimed “To criticize all the monstrosities of our vile society” of the Tsarist period. The Ideology behind Social Realism by depicting the heroism of the working class was to promote and spark revolutionary actions and to spread the image of optimism and the importance of productiveness. Keeping people optimistic meant creating a strong sense of nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and patriotism
Patriotism
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

, which would prove very important in the struggle to produce a successful socialist nation. The Unions Newspaper, the Literaturnaya Gazeta
Literaturnaya Gazeta
Literaturnaya Gazeta is a weekly cultural and political newspaper published in Russia and Soviet Union.- Overview :...

, described Social Realism as “the representation of the proletarian revolution”. During Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

’s reign it was most important to use socialist Realism as a form of propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 in posters, as it kept people optimistic and encourage greater productive effort, a necessity in his aim of developing Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 into an industrialised nation.

Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

 believed that art should belong to the people and should stand on the side of the proletariat, “Art should be based on their feelings, thoughts and demands, and should grow along with them”, said Lenin. He believed that all soviet art forms should “expose crimes of capitalism and praise socialism...created to inspire readers and viewers to stand up for the revolution”. After the revolution of 1917 leaders of the newly formed communist party were encouraging experimentation of different art types. Lenin believed that the style of art the USSR should endorse would have to be easy to understand (ruling out abstract art such as suprematism
Suprematism
Suprematism was an art movement focused on fundamental geometric forms which formed in Russia in 1915-1916. It was not until later that suprematism received conventional museum preparations...

 and constructivism
Constructivism (art)
Constructivism was an artistic and architectural philosophy that originated in Russia beginning in 1919, which was a rejection of the idea of autonomous art. The movement was in favour of art as a practice for social purposes. Constructivism had a great effect on modern art movements of the 20th...

) in relating to the masses of illiterate people of Russia.
A wide ranging debate on Art took place, the main disagreement was between those who believed in "Proletarian Art" which should have no connections with past art coming out of bourgeois society, and those (most vociferously Trotsky) who believed that Art in a society dominated by working class values had to absorb all the lessons of bourgeois Art before it could move forward at all.

The taking of power by Stalin's faction had its corollary in the establishment of an official art: on 23 April 1932, headed by Stalin, an organisation formed by the central committee of the Communist Party developed the Union of Soviet Writers. This organisation endorsed the newly designated ideology of social realism.

By 1934 all other independent art groups were abolished, making it nearly impossible for someone not involved in the Union of Soviet Writers to get work published. Any literary piece or painting that did not endorse the ideology of social realism was censored and/or banned. This new art movement, introduced under Joseph Stalin, was one of the most practical and durable artistic approaches of the 20th century; with the communist revolution came also a cultural revolution. It also gave Stalin and his Communist Party greater control over Soviet culture; restricting people from expressing alternative geopolitical ideologies that differed to those represented in Socialist Realism. The decline of Social Realism came with fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

See also

  • American realism
    American realism
    300px|thumb|[[Ashcan School]] artists & friends at [[John French Sloan]]'s Philadelphia Studio, 1898American realism was an early 20th century idea in art, music and literature that showed through these different types of work, reflections of the time period...

  • Gabriel Bracho
    Gabriel Bracho
    Gabriel Bracho was a Venezuelan artist born in Los Puertos de Altagracia on 25 May 1915. He and Cesar Rengifo were major exponents of the social realism artistic movement in Venezuela...

    , exponent of the social realism artistic movement in Venezuela
  • Kitchen sink realism
    Kitchen sink realism
    Kitchen sink realism is a term coined to describe a British cultural movement which developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s in theatre, art, novels, film and television plays, whose 'heroes' usually could be described as angry young men...

  • Naturalism (art)
    Naturalism (art)
    Naturalism in art refers to the depiction of realistic objects in a natural setting. The Realism movement of the 19th century advocated naturalism in reaction to the stylized and idealized depictions of subjects in Romanticism, but many painters have adopted a similar approach over the centuries...

  • Realism
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