By David O’Neill
The word realism conjures the everyday, the unfussy, the small. But what’s real when the world has gone mad? It’s a question that gripped Italian photographers, directors, journalists, and writers around World War II and is surely worth asking again. This exhibition heralds artists who captured quotidian life in an era of daily shocks. With a street-level perspective on poverty and labor in the shadow of war, Neorealism became synonymous with Italian cinema’s golden age. If you’ve seen Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948), you’ll know in part what to expect from the Grey Art Gallery’s survey of more than 170 works by sixty-plus artists: a social-reformist view of ordinary people scratching out a living, immune to great-man narratives, just getting by.