"The title 'realist' has been imposed upon me… Titles have never given a just idea of things; were it otherwise, the work would be superfluous… I have studied the art of the moderns, avoiding any preconceived system and without prejudice. I have no more wanted to imitate the former than to copy the latter; nor have I thought of achieving the idle aim of “art for art’s sake.” No! I have simply wanted to draw from a thorough knowledge of tradition the reasoned and free sense of my own individuality… To be able to translate the customs, ideas, and appearances of my time as I see them—in a word, to create a living art—this has been my aim." - Gustave Courbet, 1855
The First Artist's Manifesto
I became interested in Courbet when I started searching for examples of writings by artists last fall. The quote above is from a statement that the artist wrote after two of his paintings were rejected from the Salon in 1855. Art historians have named this piece of provocative writing the first artist's manifesto, a style of straightforward writing often used by artists to codify their ideas to their critics.
Read more about the French Realist painter Gustave Courbet and his forceful writing in my short essay on Arteidolia.