The world as you see it

In the specific sense, Realism refers to a mid-nineteenth-century artistic movement characterized by subjects painted from everyday life in a naturalistic manner. However, the term is also commonly used to describe works of art painted in a realistic, almost photographic style. The term Realism was coined by French novelist Champfleury in the 1840s and was exemplified in art in the work of his friend, the painter Gustav Courbet. Practical subject matter meant scenes of peasant and working-class life, life in the city streets, cafes, and popular entertainment, and an increasing frankness in treating the body and sexual subjects.

Het atelier – Gustav Courbet

Supporters of Realism claimed that the artist should represent the world as it was. And that regularly went against the ‘rules of good taste’. It was often considered immoral.

Courbet’s manifesto ‘La Réalisme’ states that art should be guided by the artist’s vision and at the expense of what were “suitable” or “unsuitable” subjects. With this, she wanted to free herself from the ‘bourgeois’ taste. The result was that their work was intensely focused on the subject of their artistic expression but also on the emotional and social meaning they gave it.

The world as it is. Which world is that?

What we observe, what we are aware of, how we interpret this, and what we do with it depend on the personal perspective from which we look. This differs per group and individual and also has to do with, for example, who you associate with, what you have experienced, your moral compass, how you see yourself, etc.

Painfully accurate and more drawing than painting, Siet Zuyderland registered 16 prisons. He stayed there for an average of 4 days, calculated 64 days: the prison sentence for pickpocketing, Zuyderland himself stated sardonically. He often added funny elements, such as the two spies and mirrors with which you can see above the street. Their function seems nonsensical: the middle window is extra barricaded. For example, the useless mirrors provide a wry commentary on the prison system. (source: Museum MORE)


We now see a society where diverse people and groups are ‘against’ something or someone: against the government, against the government, against the elite, against science. Some politicians say they stand up for ‘ordinary’ people. Many are convinced that they see the world as it is. A kind of Realism of this time?

But isn’t objectivity essentially an illusion? It means that many feelings, ideas, norms, values, and intuitions are ignored. While if you look at things differently, you can deploy and use them differently. Suppose you manage to look at yourself differently. In that case, you change yourself and your behavior because you see it differently.


When you take the time to listen to someone else and their points of view, you are exposed to thoughts that don’t exist in your head and perspectives that you may not have considered before. And even though you may not like what you hear, you often learn new things by listening to others. This also helps to widen your mind to accept better new thoughts, which could help you look at the world differently.

Schilderij: Zes vlakgommen van Lode Pemmelaar te zien in museum MORE