On the left is the realist tradition of the 19th century, with its impulse to social description, radical criticism and meditation on things as they are... culminating in Courbet at his mightiest (The Studio, The Funeral at Ornans and a portrait of a trout that has more death in it than Rubens could get in a whole Crucifixion).
Robert Hughes, reviewing exhibits in Paris’s Centre National d’Art Contemporain in "Out of a Grand Ruin, a Great Museum" from TIME magazine (8 December 1986)
I am fifty years old and I have always lived in freedom; let me end my life free; when I am dead let this be said of me: 'He belonged to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any régime except the régime of liberty.Gustave Courbet
Painting is an essentially concrete art and can only consist of the representation of real and existing things. It is a completely physical language, the words of which consist of all visible objects. An object which is abstract, not visible, non-existent, is not within the realm of painting.Gustave Courbet