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Can an artwork be both naturalistic and idealized?

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douglasbolden | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 18, 2012 at 4:07 PM via web

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Can an artwork be both naturalistic and idealized?

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booklearning | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted September 21, 2013 at 3:34 AM (Answer #2)

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  The works of Henri Julien Rousseau are both naturalistic and idealized. A self taught painter, Rousseau loved to paint lush vegatation and nature scenes. The scenes he portrayed contained idealized images of his subject matter, jungle like surroundings, animals and people in a style  that was two dimensional and not well received in his day. 

Perhaps his most famous work,The Sleeping Gypsy, painted in 1897 is a clear example of how a work can include naturalistic and idealized concepts. One can see that the images depict familiar objects yet there is a surreal quality to Rousseau's execution of his ideas,  His work in his later years was admired by Pablo Picasso and othe Parisian srtists of his day.

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aglaze | College Teacher | eNoter

Posted September 25, 2012 at 8:58 PM (Answer #1)

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Most art historians discuss art as falling somewhere on a continuum between two extremes: stylized and naturalistic.  Different words can be used to describe these two extremes, however: idealized and realistic, abstract and illusionistic (as in looking through a window into the painting), and so on.  Whatever artwork we discuss falls somewhere on this continuum.

If the question is whether the artwork highlights beauty and omits gritty details, then we ask how naturalistic it is.  If the artwork is naturalistic, then the artist has faithfully included all of the details that would be captured in a photograph. Naturally, an artwork that falls on the naturalistic end of the spectrum is further from the idealized end.

 

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