Courbet was a painter but he also wrote a great deal about his thoughts regarding where art would go in the future since it was clear that technology would soon be replacing the importance of the painter as a recorder of visual imagery. The camera was a brand new technology, but it proved that man would soon have the ability to click a button and create, without brush or easel, an image of their loved one. In the face of this modern change, Courbet suggested “painting is an essentially concrete art and can only consist in the representation of real and existing things”. However, the primary technical concern of Courbet seemed to be to deviant from a strictly pictorial interpretation of what is meant by ‘real’. This included elements such as abandoning some of the ‘rules’ of in order to capture a more natural flow of line and form. By retaining rough elements of the painting such as sketching lines or other ‘mistakes’, Courbet felt he was more accurately representing both the moment being expressed on the canvas and the felt emotion of the moment as it was experienced by the artist. He continued to refine his ideas of the real as an abstract concept held within the mind thanks to his continued associations with the ‘rough’ people of the fields and industries, finally writing to a friend in 1850, “… in our so very civilized society it is necessary for me to live the life of a savage. I must be free even of governments. The people have my sympathies, I must address myself to them directly” .
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The essay "Realism in the Modern World" explores in what was could cubism be described as a form of realism attuned to the experience of modernity. In Courbet’s written thoughts on the philosophy of realism can be found much of the philosophy of later cubism…
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