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Visual Art Paper 1, Nov/Dec. 2009  
Questions: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Main
General Comments
Question 8
  • Write notes on the following:

    • realism;
    • impressionism;
    • cubism.


Most candidates avoided this question. Instead of giving the origin, period, characteristics and artists involved in each of these art movements, most of the few candidates that attempted this question were giving dictionary interpretations of the words. For example, realism was variously described as “the real thing”, “what is sure and concrete” e.t.c.    

They were expected to respond to the question as follows:

a. Realism

Realism was a mid 19th century art movement. It was founded in France and its emphasis was on the depiction of life and nature as they really were. The leader of the movement is Gustave Courtbet. Realism is also referred to as democratic art or Pre-Raphaelite and the main idea was to project nature realistically. Other notable members of the movement include, D.G. Rossetti, J.E. Millias, W. Holman Hunt, Francois Millet and Honore Daumier.


Impressionism was a late 19th century art movement that originated in France and was pioneered by Edouard Manet. Other members of the movement include Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, Sirley the sculptor, Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Paul Cezenne e.tc. These artists realized that to paint truthfully, one had to paint in the open and they began to depend on their eyes rather than their ideas of what things ought to look like. The impressionists believe that painting had to be finished on the spot as nature changes every minute. Brush strokes were rapid and details were less precise in an attempt to capture the fleeting effect of light.


Cubism is a 20th Century art movement pioneered by Pablo Picasso in 1907. It started with Pablo Picasso’s painting (Les Dornoisellas d’Avirigon). It began as an effort to bring out the geometric structure of objects and was strongly influenced by African traditional sculpture. Cubism were near abstract art and was in two phases; analytical and synthetic.

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