Obelisk Art History
Themes in Art

Social Realism

Around the world, at different times, and in different styles, artists have portrayed the struggles of working class people. While there are many ways to tell a story visually, artists often use realism to make these images tangible, to make you feel like you're walking in the shoes of a barge-hauler in Tzarist Russia or a mother wondering how to feed her children during the Great Depression. Social realism may take on many different styles, but the intent is to create empathy with people who may be different than you.

Reed Enger, "Social Realism," in Obelisk Art History, Published December 21, 2018; last modified December 21, 2018, http://arthistoryproject.com/subjects/social-realism/.

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Barge Haulers On The Volga, Ilya Repin

Barge Haulers On The Volga

Ilya Repin, 1870-1873
Girl with Yellow Hat, Norman Lewis

Girl with Yellow Hat

Norman Lewis, 1936
Meeting Place, Norman Lewis

Meeting Place

Norman Lewis, 1941
Migrant Mother, Dorothea Lange

Migrant Mother

Dorothea Lange, 1936
Migration Series No.10: They were very poor, Jacob Lawrence

Migration Series No.10: They were very poor

Jacob Lawrence, 1940-1941
Title unknown (Subway), Norman Lewis

Title unknown (Subway)

Norman Lewis, 1945
Unexpected Visitors, Ilya Repin

Unexpected Visitors

Ilya Repin, 1884-1888
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Cuneiform

Still Lifes, Themes in Art

Still Lifes

Quiet moments with simple objects

Abstract Art, Themes in Art

Abstract Art

Unshackled from the figure

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