Italian Neo-Realism, also known as "Realismo", is part of the phenomenon of Neo-Realism, which was observable throughout Western Europe after World War II. However, in no other country did the movement hold such a strong position against abstraction than in Italy. The discussions regarding the direction art should take, led in Italy under participation of the Communist Party, had already taken Italian literature and film to Neo-Realism, in "Realismo" a respective equivalence was found for painting.
A group of artists, among them Renato Guttuso (1912-87), Gabriele Mucchi (1899-2002) and Armando Pizzinato (born 1910), also appeared under the name of "Realismo" at the XXV. Biennale in Venice in 1950. With the aid of the "New Front of Arts", the association "Fronte Nuovo delle Arti", they wanted, in line with antifascist traditions, to attain a revolutionary Realism that was supposed to serve the working class. Further appearances of the group took place on the 1952 and 1954 Biennale - meanwhile the "Fronte Nuovo delle Arti" had broken up, as not all its artists believed Realism to be the highest form of art. However, numerous representatives of Neo-Realism stayed true to their style up until the end of the last century.
As far as topics were concerned, the Italian neo-realists consciously turned to themes that were close to the life of common people, pictures with an often direct historic reference were in the center. The flood disaster on the Po river in 1951, for instance, was depicted by the artists, just like strikes, stoppages or other great public events. Working class life was often represented by a simple construction worker. In terms of style, the painters of the Italian Realismo deliberately created images that were simple and accessible, so that their art would have an effect on common people, additionally, they wanted to show that they were also acquainted with the previous developments of Modernism. The compositions are of a clear spatiality and a strong and expressive directness, the figures are quite plastic, dominated by pathos and drama. It is only in its later years that Italian Neo-Realism shows stronger notions of a softer Lyrism. Paintings of Realismo are often quite emotionally charged and seek, in line with the fomenting ambitions, contact with the observer.
Additionally, the term Realismo also denotes a modern tendency in architecture around the "Fronte Nuovo delle Arti" in the 1950s.