From Realism through the Postmodern EraAssignment Type: 1- 1300 words Realism is a style of art in which the subjects are depicted as they appear in real life. This style was prevalent in mid 19th century. Most of these images were ordinary and common things in contrast with the Romanticism and neoclassicism. Grafton Tyler Brown( 1841-1918) was an African American artist from this period. He was born in Harrisburg Pa. He came to San Francisco later and worked as a lithographer. He soon gave up lithography to pursue art. His works are mainly consisting of landscaped and mountain scenery.
His interest in these subjects grew after he went on a geological survey in 1882. he painted the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone many times over from 1886 to 1891. One of his works is View of the Lower Falls, Grand Canyons of the Yellowstone. This was done in 1890. This is a typical representation of realism. The work shows a small water fall in the valleys of the Grand Canyon. The style is as similar as taking a photograph. The colors used are also as close to the actual colors of the scene as possible.
Even the texture of the land has been recreated painstakingly. The background shows sky and the clouds as they must have been in the real life. Realism is a style, as told before, of recreating the images as they are seen. Modernism was the style in the early twentieth century. This style is said to ‘use characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself’(Greenberg, 1960). This was shift from realism. As the technique of photography developed the realistic depictions became redundant.
Modernism believes in creating art by using color and form and not by recreating the natural world. Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) was an American Modern artist. He was born in Harlem, New York City and learnt art from Charles Alston in Harlem Art Workshop. In 1937 he enrolled in American Art School. Ha also worked for the WPA Federal Art Project as a painter. His earlier paintings were historical works about African American figures like Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman. His subjects changed after he served in the Coast Guard in World War II.
After this he started painting to support civil rights movement. His later works became more abstract in nature. His work New York in Transit, done in 1996 shows expressions through colors and form which is the characteristics of modernism. This painting uses the colors of the American flag- red and blue that are offset by light blue, grey, brown and black. The work has multiple images of daily life. The colors are used in linear columns and are flat. This depicts various facets of life in New York with different figures showing different activities and different mental states.
The work is divided into two with a vertical column. On one side is a set of scenes which form a different world of fun and joy while the other side has a male and a female figure pulling at the vertical column that represents the division in the society. There is despair on their faces while some activity is going on in the background. All the figures are devoid of real features and are just flat colors but still they are able to convey the feelings of the subjects.