Definitions of Realism


In the arts, realism is the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, implausible, exotic and supernatural elements.

“Art finds her own perfection within, and not outside of, herself.
She is not to be judged by any external standard of resemblance.”
– Oscar Wilde

It has been prevalent in the arts at many periods, and is in large part a matter of technique and training, and the avoidance of stylization. In general, realism has been the awareness or acceptance of the facts and necessities of life; a practical rather than a moral or dogmatic view of things. It is also a style of painting and sculpture which seeks to represent the familiar or typical in real life, rather than an idealized, formalized, or romantic interpretation.

“Realism can break a writer’s heart.”
– Salman Rushdie

Outside the arts, in science, realism is the viewpoint that an external reality exists independent of observation. In philosophy, it is the doctrine that universals are real i.e. they exist and are distinct from the particulars that instantiate them.