Sunday, March 30, 2008

Why is verism in art so important to the Romans?

The dominance of the Roman Empire was awesome to Roman leaders and their populous. Allowing the worship promoted by previous cultures would be revolting to the new style that the Romans were designing. The new order of life style became real. An individual’s legacy was honored. Family members celebrated life memorializing ancestors and the contributions made for the health and wealth of all related. The term for this movement became known as verismo, Italian for realism. Today we refer to this movement as truthful.

Art was created and promoted as more realistic, described as “warts and all”, showing imperfections of the subject. Romans changed how their leaders were sculpted. None of the sculptures or art related to past god/human creatures. For the first time, marble busts were sculpted. Statues were carved in full nudity, some wearing only a sash or sandals. Hair was created in the same style as worn, done with a drill to let the marble curl naturally. Exact size of a man, including wrinkles, warts, and oddities were carved with pride. Women were portrayed as equals, with sleek figures and participating in everyday activities along with men. Some aged individuals were sculpted in marble which had not been done in the past. However, an oxymoron of realism occurred for funerals of revered family members. Professional mourners were hired to give illusion of huge attendance honoring that burial.

Literature witnessed the revolt from classicism or romanticism to realism. Roman leaders promoted natural everyday speech and writing leading to a simple style. Styles of the past were burdensome. None of the god-like images were referenced as honorable. Man was the pinnacle of this universe and to be admired.

George Breslau

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