Romance, Cupid, and love are probably the average person’s thoughts on the era of Romanticism. This era, ranging roughly from 1800-1880, was not about a mushy, gushy feeling, but rather the glorification of something. In the realm of art, the focus of the Romantics did not glorify objects, but concepts such as liberty, despair, heroism etc. This glorification, however, was swelling with feelings and emotions. The personalization of the artist was morphing into the norm.
With revolutions devastating most of Europe, the downtrodden people wanted to escape reality. They could only escape through their dreams and imaginations. Men became inward focused instead of outward focused, foregoing reason and intellect, which was fostered by the Enlightenment a century prior. While Romanticism was inspired by the current events going on around them, the artist continued to reach back into the past; contrary to Realism. Realism neglected the past because of its focus of the here and now.
Coincidentally, the Realism Era overlapped with Romanticism. The landscape artwork with the emphasis in nature was the merger between the two eras because landscapes could work in both frameworks. Realism surfaced because of the abrupt changes caused by the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution spurred humanity’s chant of “Progress!”
In the age where the telephone was invented and machinery took over labor, the glorification of real individuals, work, and social justice abounded. The artists during this time period in the late 1800’s focused more on the concrete.
“Romanticism’s dreams woke up to face the stark reality of Realism”
The dreams could not last forever—man finally had to accept the real world. The Scientific age, drawn from Naturalism, assisted society in focusing on the cold, hard facts. In the art realm, the art was drawn from the artist’s perception of how he viewed the world. This led to Impressionism, championed by Monet, and was steered toward abstract art and expressionism.
“Ideas have Consequences,” said philosopher Richard M. Weaver. We can see throughout this quick article how people take ideas and create new ideas. Art has an impact on society and it is important to be aware of the consequences of actions, for, it is we who are influenced by them. Romanticism had an impact on Modern art but not until it went through Realism. Romanticism focused on feelings, Realism focused on facts. How often do we focus get stuck on ‘this’ or ‘that’ instead realizing that its ‘both/and.’ Let us glean from both Romanticism and Realism for its strengths and strive to focus on the good, the true, and the beautiful.