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Realism

Linda Nochlin, Realism (London: Pelican Books, 1971), 283 pages, 134 black-and-white illustrations.

"ALL THAT WAS SOLID and established crumbles away, all that was holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to look with open eyes upon his conditions of life and true social relations,” wrote Marx in the Communist Manifesto.1 How this new consciousness, a product of the revolution of 1848, became a substantive part of artistic self-expression is the subject of Linda Nochlin’s Realism. Like Nochlin’s other writings, but unlike most art-historical studies, Realism is distinguished by the author’s conception of her subject as a cluster of still vital social and artistic issues. Equally unusual is the extent to which she brings alive the content of 19th-century art—Realist and realistic—as it was conditioned by the historical experience of 19th-century society.

To this end, Realist artists

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