Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Magic Realism

Today's entry is about Magic Realism, (AKA Magical Realism), a form of painting that encompasses fantastical characters and objects in a realistic looking depiction. Magic Realism in art actually refers to a twentieth century movement which was initiated by European artists after World War I,. It was followed by a second phase that began in North America a decade later. The earliest phases of Magic Realism followed World War I and preceded Surrealism by a few years. Together the two phases spanned approximately four decades, with residual works after 1960.

The movement actually began as a reaction to Expressionism, Cubism, and other avant-garde movements. The first Magic Realism paintings were characterized by sharply focused, unsentimental presentations of commonplace subject matter.

Frank Roh identified 22 traits of Magic Realism. Important features include a sharp focus throughout the painting, the smooth and thin application of the paint, the subordination of painting techniques, juxtaposition of close and far subject matter, and the limited use of aerial perspective and atmospheric effects.

Magic Realism spread from Germany to many other European countries, and subsequently to North America. Although in many ways the movement was soon overshadowed in Europe by the Surrealist movement, it flourished to a considerable extent in the Americas, as an alternative artistic current to the mainstream Abstract Expressionism movement which developed in the 1940's and 50's.

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Stacy Alexander