Naturalism – (French naturalisme, from lat. Natura – nature) – a direction in literature and art that developed in the last third of the XIX century in Europe and the USA. Under the influence of the ideas of positivism, the main representatives of which were O. Comte and G. Spencer, this movement strove for an objective and dispassionate depiction of reality, likening artistic knowledge to scientific, proceeded from the idea of the complete predetermination of fate, the dependence of the spiritual world of a person on the social environment, heredity and physiology.
In the field of art, naturalism was developed primarily in the works of French writers – brothers E. and J. Goncurov and Emil Zola, who believed that the artist should reflect the world around him without any embellishment, conventions and taboos, with maximum objectivity, positivistic truth. In an effort to tell a person “everything is in-depth”, naturalists showed a special interest in the biological aspects of life. Naturalism in literature and painting manifests itself in a consciously frank display of the physiological manifestations of a person, his pathologies, depicting scenes of violence and cruelty, cruelty, passionately observed and described by the artist. Photographic, deestheticization of the art form are becoming the leading signs of this trend.
Despite the limitations of the creative method, the rejection of generalizations and analysis of the socio-economic problems of society, naturalism, the introduction of new themes into art, interest in depicting the “social bottom”, and new means of depicting reality contributed to the development of artistic vision and the emergence of critical realism in the 19th century (such like E. Manet, E. Degas., M. Lieberman, K. Meunier, Verist artists in Italy, etc.) however, in painting, naturalism did not take shape into a coherent, consistent phenomenon, as in literature.
In Soviet criticism of the 1930-1970s. naturalism was seen as an artistic method, the opposite of realism and characterized by an asocial, biological approach to man, copying life without artistic generalization, increased attention to its dark sides.
Masters of Naturalism: Theophile Steinlen, Constantin Meunier, Max Lieberman, Kete Kolwitz, Francesco Paolo Michetti, Vincenzo Vela, Lucien Freud, Philippe Perlstein.