Realism and Modernism: A Polemic/or Present-Day Art
IT can be argued that realism, as an aesthetic category and a normative method for binding art to society^ has become moribund and a dead weight, having served both radical and conservative philosophies of culture for over a century. Modernism too has come under attack. Fitted on to a progressivist thesis, modernists have reduced their options. Inevitably, for the progressivist, impluse itself is attenuated and lies brittle in the path of advanced nations.
If realism features in current discussions on art, it is one of the paltry alternatives among several so-called post-modernist trends. The line of demarcation between modernism and postmodernism is also not very clear. Post-modernism is a reaction and it leads to at least three quite different options: i) a naive, banal and informal art, ii) a conceptual documentary art, iii) a photographically accurate and communicable art. The last two alternatives, which are usually accompained by sociological data, seek to attain a political status and, on account of superfluous resemblance with realism, it may take on that label, though this is often qualified by a prefix such as super, hyper or photo-realism. Generally, the attack on modernism and the defence of realism have been conservative, even when it came supposedly from the