What is naturalism in art?

the Question "what is naturalism" – one of the most difficult in science, as quite often this area is confused with realism in General and photography in particular. It is therefore necessary to be clear about the differences between these two movements and clearly they distinguish, because it affects the understanding of the development of culture in the second half of the 19th century. The first thing to remember about the circumstances and preconditions of the emergence of new ideas about the task of the artist, writer and Director.


Understanding of what naturalism is impossible without taking into account the social situation of the second half of this century. In the present time there have been fundamental changes in science, which greatly influenced the creative intelligentsia of Europe and America. At this time, the dominant trend was positivism, which involved the study of nature and society are not based on abstract mental constructs and concrete facts. Therefore, many scientists refused to theoretical studies and moved to detailed analysis of specific phenomena. This principle was quickly picked up by a number of artists, in particular, it is actively developed in his works, the famous writer Emile Zola. Under the new concept, the artist now had to depict reality as it is, without embellishment and conventions, following the rules of clean, positive, experimental science.


the Study of “What is naturalism” should continue analysis of new ideas which began to carry out the new directions. They began to describe and explain the psychology and character of the person features of its physiology, race, as well as external conditions of existence. Disclosure the spiritual world of the personality, his complicated and contradictory nature, moral pursuits no longer interested in the supporters of the new flow. Much more they were interested in human pathology, social conflicts, rough struggle for survival. For a time these ideas took the lead in painting and literature. A distinctive feature of naturalism is that life satisfaction and unwillingness to change anything. If romanticism is looking for a solution to the problems in the escape from reality, realism offers a more or less concrete measures for the improvement of human society, a new genre of stops that depicts what the lack of it. Nevertheless, the authors, naturalists hold the idea that imperfect as the world still more or less stable, and therefore everyone is worthy of attention, even the ugly details.


to better understand naturalism, we must remember the conditions in which it arose. romantic realism is not interested in the creative intelligentsia, which sought new forms of expression of their thoughts. Revolution, social upheaval, war, differed special cruelty, which marked the second half of the 19th century, could not fail to affect the spiritual life of society. representatives of the new currents refused all conventions, often depictions of the violence of life. A characteristic feature of this direction was destatization art. Artists and writers have described and reproduced the negative side of human existence, believing that thus to demonstrate the objective reality. Unfortunately, this tendency often led to the emergence of works that are difficult to attribute to the sphere of art, as they differed special brutality and ugliness of the plot and forms. Great importance was attached to the image of a person in the real world. The artists paid attention to his appearance, and writers on physiology and instincts.

Ideological Foundation

a New trend in art and culture has arisen not on an empty place. He had his own philosophy, which inspired his supporters. Indicative of the fact that its first manifestations date back to ancient times, when some thinkers have explained all the phenomena of reality, including the identity of the person, surrounding nature (Epicurus, representatives of stoicism). In modern times, this ideology was developed in the work of several philosophers and authors of educational literature. They pointed to the fact that the essence of naturalism is reduced to the removal of all events of the specific facts of nature. Some authors even tried to consider ethical notions through the prism of one man's struggle for existence. These thinkers have paid attention to the natural instincts, the struggle for survival.

In fiction

Naturalism in literature puts the object image of human nature in connection with the description of living and material conditions of existence. Writers tend to explain the behavior of the personality of its heredity and physiological characteristics. Hallmark creativity of some authors was the imitation of scientific methods, which, unfortunately, led to the impoverishment of artistic means and possibilities. Another drawback of this genre is the lack of ideology and a critical attitude to any kind of ideologies in any form, which, as you know, the backbone of romanticism and realism.

Naturalism in literature is associated first and foremost with the name of the French author Zola. The main theme of his work was the image of their disrupted middle-class life. He focused on the household side of existence their heroes. However, in his writings, despite the apparent crudity of the images and stories, has its own philosophy, which distinguishes this writer among colleagues.

Examples in literature

Representatives of naturalism has made a significant contribution to world literature. Guy de Maupassant was the most prominent representative of this trend. He was a master of short prose and Creator of a series of famous novels. Indicative of the fact that this writer was rejecting pure naturalism, but at the same time he sought to achieve an almost documentary precision in the depiction of events. He declined to analyze human psychology and merely transfer facts from the lives of the characters. At the same time, he differed extremely responsive to everything around him, which is reflected in his works, whereby the latter acquired a European fame.

In painting

In the 1870s in the visual arts took shape on the stage. Photos became like some sample to artists who have achieved the most accurate picture. They tried to ignore the subject matter, tried to avoid the transmission of emotions, which, of course, does not always work. The landscape artists and portrait painters tried to objectively convey to the viewer a particular phenomenon without embellishment and aesthetic conventions. One of the outstanding representatives of painting of the new direction was a French artist E. Manet.

It is considered to be the founder of impressionism, which quickly replaced the considered line in culture, however, he began with the fact that a photographic reproducing the image object. One of his most famous paintings, which depicts an employee of the bar, is striking in its specificity and detail.

that was exactly what he was striving for naturalism. Photos became for his followers a real benchmark.

Other members

One of the disadvantages of the considered direction was the lack of artistic and ideological generalizations. Subjects were not subjected to philosophical interpretation and critical evaluation and treatment that was typical of realism. However, the new course had a number of advantages: faithful reproduction of reality, the precise details and details.

in Addition to the artist, in this style worked by E. Degas. His paintings are imbued with a simplicity and harmony that distinguishes the paintings of the author from the works of those who prefer to depict a rough scenes from the simple life. Degas preferred to work with pastels, what stood out among his contemporaries. Features of naturalism is especially apparent in the works of A. Lautrec.

His posters and paintings are characterized by some peculiar and even calling for their time liberty.

In film

Naturalism of the 19th century influenced the creation of films. Already the first Directors only originated cinema began to apply the techniques in their practice. One of the first such films was the film version of Zola's novel “the human beast". Modern films can often meet the elements of this style, especially in action movies and horror movies. As example, the movie ‘Fight club”, in which a lot of scenes of violence and cruelty. The latest releases show that this direction is still interested Directors.

for Example, recently released war film “conscientious”, full of brutal scenes. So, consider for a strongly influenced world cinema.

Comparison with the previous direction

the Question of what is the difference of naturalism from realism, as a rule, causes serious difficulties for students, since both currents at first glance have much in common. Their goal – to reproduce the phenomena of life with the objective accuracy and precision. Adherents of the areas sought to give a truthful picture of reality, but achieved its goal in different ways. Realists sought to portray the subject of typical features, which they comprehended, summarized and presented in the individual images. Naturalists initially asked to copy the observed phenomenon and deliberately renounced philosophy. Perhaps this is the fundamental difference between naturalism from realism.

Differences in topics

Both directions achieve the veracity of reproducing phenomena of social reality. In this respect they can be contrasted with romanticism, which, by contrast, takes the reader into the beautiful world of dreams and fantasies. However, adherents of both movements in the culture in different ways saw that very reality. Realistic in the depiction of everyday life focused on the spiritual world, they were interested in the struggle of the individual with middle-class way of life. They focused on how people in difficult conditions kept the spirituality. Naturalists, by contrast, were interested in only the physiology and social conditions, which, in their opinion, determined the existence of man. In relation to the differences between realism and naturalism are different artistic means. Those who were committed to the first course, used many techniques when recreating their object of interest, while members of the new directions themselves limited in terms of language, avoiding metaphors, epithets, because they believed that they distract readers from specific facts.

New features

When it comes to what a critical naturalism, the mind, usually comes the analogy with realism. This trend is not only sought to faithfully portray reality, but also to criticize its shortcomings. The authors often raised acute social issues touched upon topical issues of our time. They often ridiculed the vices of society using the techniques of satire. The same can be said regarding naturalism. However, if the writers-realists tried to understand the causes of the socio-economic problems and even offered a solution, the authors who have confined themselves to listing the shortcomings of the depicted object, just stating specific facts, which, of course, was not always sufficient for complete and objective image of a plot. It should be remembered that naturalism – a direction that does not claim philosophical understanding and synthesis. It is only with the photographic, near-documentary accuracy reproduces the interests of its object. Perhaps that is why this area is one of the most controversial in a culture that did not last too long.

In the domestic arts

In our country have been through the same stage of development romanticism, realism. Naturalism, by contrast, has not received a wide distribution. Some authors explain this by the peculiarities of the Russian culture and mentality, pointing to a Patriarchal and a high degree of spirituality. However, some features of the considered flow still reflected in works of literature and some films. So, the books of writer J. N. Mamin-Sibiryak is written under the obvious influence of this style. The author portrayed the life of the population of the Urals, describing how the reform era led to a change in social consciousness, break down of common values and morals.

Another novelist P. D. Boborykin - was a clear copycat of creativity Zola. In one of his most famous works with almost scientific precision reproduced the details of merchant life, the life of the nobility, described their housing. In Soviet times, the naturalism was seen as the opposite of realism, therefore, many critics reacted negatively to the techniques and methods. According to them, the authors focused on the dark side of human existence, while the Soviet propaganda cultivated the idea of a constructive activity of people in the construction of communism.
But despite the negative attitude to naturalism, this direction found reflection in the Soviet cinema. For example, the picture is epic A. Konchalovsky “opportunity” was filmed under the strong influence of naturalism. This tape gained recognition in the West. In this film the Director showed a not too attractive side of life in far remote Siberian village at the turn of the era.


Naturalism in art played a major role in the development of culture in the second half of the 19th-early 20th century. The desire of writers and artists to move away from some formal conventions and rules, coupled with the active search for new forms of expression of ideas and the desire to accurately reproduce the phenomena of reality, led to new original solutions in art word and means of depiction. Some representatives of this movement still retained some philosophy in his works, combined with a compelling description of the lives of ordinary people has allowed them to create memorable works in literature, painting and cinema.