Monday, 13 January 2014

Hyper-realistic Painting

Hyper-realistic Painting comes to Birmingham. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery currently has an exhibition running called Photorealism: 50 Years of Hyperrealistic PaintingIt is the first major large-scale retrospective in Europe devoted to Photorealism. Visit the website for details.  

History of Hyper Realistic Painting (Photorealism)
In the late 1960s, a group of artists emerged in the US whose focus was the realistic depictions of everyday objects and scenes.  They used photographic images of consumer goods, cars, motorcycles, diners, cityscapes etc., and  reproduced them to a much larger scale in oil and acrylic. 
Note: The idea of using photography as a source was not a new one, within the nineteenth, and throughout the twentieth-centuries, artists, including portrait painters, have used the photograph as an aid.

Joan Baeder
Pappy’s Place, Nashville, TN
Oil on canvas
76 x 121cm
Courtesy of Louis K. Meisel
Gallery, New York
Image © John Baeder
Photo © Institut fü r
Kulturaustausch, Tübingen
Chuck Close
Self Portrait (1977)
Etching in paper
Trial proof from an
edition of 35
134 x 104 cm
(sheet size)
112 x 89 cm
(image size)
Private Collection
Image © Chuck Close
Photo © Institut fü r
Kulturaustausch, Tübingen
Don Eddy
Untitled (4 VWs) (1971)
Acrylic on canvas
167 x 241cm
F. Javier Elorza
Image © Don Eddy
Photo © 2012 foto gonzalo de
la serna

Ralph Goings
America’s Favourite (1989)
Oil on canvas
76 x 89 cm
Collection of Susan P. and
Louis K. Meisel, New York
Image © Ralph Goings
Photo© Institut fü r
Kulturaustausch, Tübingen
David Parrish
Butler Terrace (1973)
Oil on canvas
138 x 138 cm
F. Javier Elorza
Image © David Parrish
Photo © 2012 foto gonzalo de
la serna
John Salt
White Chevy – Red Trailer
Airbrushed acrylic on
115 x 171 cm
147 x 195 x 12 cm
Birmingham Museum & Art
Image © John Salt
Photo © Birmingham Museums

The exhibition surveys the work of major US artists considered to have developed the genre, including a pioneer of Photorealism, the nationally recognized painter and sculptor, Audrey Flack, and Charles Bell (1935 – 1995) - a Photorealist painter who produced large still life paintings and breathed life into fairly mundane subjects like tin toys and pin ball machines. Don Eddy  who changes a background landscape by introducing and juxtaposing objects in the forefront; the photo-realist portrait painter, Chuck Close, and last but not least, English artist (Birmingham born and trained) John Salt, who, not long after finishing his studies at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, married and moved to the US and has spent much of his time living and working there. Salt favours American scenes in his work i.e. old car wrecks and trailers often appearing in a rural, or semi-rural landscape settings.

Having acknowledged already that Photorealism had its roots in the United States and that the American way of life is and was often the subject, the exhibition shows Transport as a running theme, with American Photorealistartist's: Ron Kleeman, Tom Blackwell and Ralph Goings all portraying items such as pick-up trucks, planes, motorcycles and cars etc.  The seminal works Bride (1969) and White Chevy – Red Trailer (1975) by John Salt (himself raised in a family employed in car manufacturing)are also included. Meanwhile, Chuck Close, who I also mentioned in my last paragraph, became known for massive scale portraits, constructing faces through a complex grid-based reconstruction from photography. Whereas, Gus Heinze another first generation painter, who perhaps prefers photographing and painting storefront-windows and city scenes, varies his urban subjects with those of dilapidated farm equipment, locomotive engines and water pumps painted in a style he calls "abstract realism".

The second generation of Photorealists, working in the 1980s and 1990s, built upon the
work of those who had gone before them. The
genre has increasingly become more
international and of particular interest to
European artists, the work of Anthony 
Brunelli, for example, encompassing cityscapes
of France, Switzerland and Italy as well as
small-town America. The city itself now became
the focus, with Bertrand Meniel capturing
panoramic views of Miami Beach, New York City
and other American cities, whilst the city
street at dusk is the favoured theme of 
Robert Gniewek.

The era of digital photography has inevitably impacted upon Photorealism, exemplified by a third - contemporary - generation of artists. Raphaella Spence photographs cities around the world from a helicopter using a 66-megapixel camera, then transferring images to canvas pixel by pixel, resulting in pin-sharp accuracy. Peter Maier, having worked for several years as a designer in the car industry, uses special automobile paint applied with a spray gun to high-tech aluminium in as many as twenty five layers. The results are images of highly polished car bodies with a three-dimensional character and deceptively real appearance.
Note: I had saved, to my files, images of the original photographs and the matching paintings.  Above I have credited both the artist and the photographer each time (and sometimes they are one of the same), because, in most cases, I could not separate the paintings from the photographic image. I think I've published the paintings but I am not absolutely sure which I am displaying actually - amazing! I'll try to get down to see the exhibition in Birmingham! children did some reproducing of photography during the home ed years. One idea we had was to recreate greeting card prints by making pencil 'copies' and then painting them and matching up the colours; trying hard to be attentive to details like the light and shade, tone and textures, and the colour and reflections that the images presented us with. J painted a picture by copying a photographic image of a Dalmation with her puppies, not an easy job for a youngster because of the white background, and K recreated a classic painting of a lady in a window seat. I displayed the cards together with the children's versions on the wall at home - they looked really good, so a great project idea there.  

And, also a few years back now. J copied a picture poster of footballer, Jermain Defoe and reproduced it as a painting

Footballer Jermain Defoe painted by J 

..and although Photorealism is intended to be a means of objectively documenting the world, distancing itself from the subjectivity of concurrent art movements such as abstract expressionism, Pop Art and minimal art...I'm going to show you, nonetheless, my children's attempts of producing examples of excellent visual art depicting objects that are quite banal in their everyday-ish-ness and so are relevant to the topic above in that respect. J's Aldi Baked Beans in a tin and K's Kellogg's Frosties pack!

Thanks for reading. Debra

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