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Janet Bishop

(b San Francisco, CA, May 14, 1932).

American painter. Native of the San Francisco Bay Area, known for careful observation and explicit use of snapshot-like photographic source material for paintings of family, cars, and residential neighborhoods. The artist rose to national and international prominence in early 1970s as part of the Photorealist movement (see Photorealism).

From the 1960s, Bechtle pursued a quiet realism based on the things he knew best, translating what seem to be ordinary scenes of middle-class American life into paintings. Following an early childhood in the Bay Area and Sacramento, his family settled in 1942 in Alameda, an island suburb adjacent to Oakland where his mother would occupy the same house for almost 60 years. The neighborhood appears in many of Bechtle’s paintings.

Bechtle earned both his BFA (1954) and his MFA (1958) at Oakland’s California College of Arts and Crafts, where he studied graphic design and then painting. During his student years and into the 1960s, Bechtle was influenced by Pop art’s precedent for the use of commercial subject matter and techniques. He was likewise interested in Bay Area figuration, especially the subjects and structure of paintings by ...

Article

Milan Ivelić

(b Valparaíso, Nov 8, 1936; d Taroudant, June 4, 2011).

Chilean painter and draughtsman. He studied painting in Santiago in 1947–8 with the Chilean painter Miguel Venegas, then lived in Spain from 1961 to 1972 before moving to Tangiers. His entire artistic career has been conducted outside his native country.

Bravo initially worked as a portrait painter, supporting himself in Spain through commissions, which also introduced him into Spanish high society. His sitters included General Franco and his family. Later, while still in Spain, he began painting packages and wrapped objects in a polished, highly detailed realist style bordering on Photorealism but consciously related to the Spanish still-life tradition represented by Zurbarán and Velázquez, whose work he greatly admired. He remarked that he hoped to be regarded as one of the few 20th-century painters to have respected the work of the Old Masters and learnt from it.

Working with both oil paints and pastels, after moving to Morocco, Bravo combined objects with human figures in interior spaces, displaying perfect control of the luminous atmosphere and the strict perspective. While his technical facility was undeniable, the ambiguity of his subject-matter and the mysteriousness of his settings, tempering the clarity of the figures and objects, led him beyond the mere reproduction of appearances. Unlike the Photorealists, who tended to present their images as straightforward visual evidence, Bravo used his motifs as a way of dealing with obsessions such as narcissism or the random meeting of figures unconnected in time. An illusory and confusing interplay between reality and representation is central to Bravo’s work, leaving the spectator unsure whether what he is seeing lies inside or outside the painting....

Article

(b Monroe, WA, July 5, 1940).

American painter and printmaker. He studied (1960–65) at the University of Washington, Seattle, at Yale University, and at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna. During this period he painted biomorphic abstract works, influenced by the avant-garde American art of the previous two decades. After a brief experiment with figurative constructions, he began copying black-and-white photographs of a female nude in colour on to canvas. After abandoning this approach he used a black-and-white palette, which resulted in the 6.7 m long Big Nude (1967–8; artist’s col., see Lyons and Storr, p. 14). Finding this subject too ‘interesting’, he turned to neutral, black-and-white head-and-shoulder photographs as models, which he again reproduced in large scale on canvas, as in Self-portrait (1968; Minneapolis, MN, Walker A. Cent.). He incorporated every detail of the photograph and allowed himself no interpretative freedom. Working from photographs enabled him to realize the variations in focus due to changing depth of field, something impossible when working from life. He continued in the black-and-white style until ...

Article

(Louis)

(b Denver, CO, Nov 24, 1941).

American sculptor. He studied at the University of Colorado, Boulder (1961–5), and was an art assistant at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (1966–8). He had his first one-man show at the OK Harris Gallery in New York in 1970. He rapidly developed a style of casting and then painting fibreglass or polyvinyl acetate sculptures of figures from live models. His techniques evolved to include refinements for achieving his hyper-realistic effects, including layering paint and glazes to depict a variety of skin surfaces and veins, creating individual characteristics such as moles and freckles, and implanting hair instead of adding wigs (see fig.). The extreme verism of his work links it to Photorealism, although it lacks the strong cultural identity evident in much Photorealist sculpture and painting. Many of the sculptures are of one or two young, elegant, and casually posed nude figures, as in ...

Article

Mark W. Sullivan

(b Long Beach, CA, Nov 4, 1944).

American painter and printmaker. Eddy studied at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu (BFA, 1967, MFA, 1969) and came to prominence in the early 1970s as an exponent of Photorealism, producing airbrushed paintings based on photographs of automobiles (e.g. Untitled, 1971; Aachen, Neue Gal.), the displays in shop windows or still-lifes, as in New Shoes for H (1973; Cleveland, OH, Mus. A.). He treated similar subjects in screenprints and in colour lithographs such as Red Mercedes (1972; see 1973 exh. cat., p. 35). Rather than basing a painting or print on a single photograph, as was the case with other photorealists, Eddy would work from as many as 40 photographs to ensure a consistently sharp focus for his often spatially complex images.

From the 1980s Eddy’s focus shifted away from photorealism towards metaphysics, with images placed in porteic relationships to one another; describing his art as ‘echoing ecosystems’....

Article

Christopher Brookeman

(b Kewanee, IL, May 14, 1932).

American painter. He moved with his family to Chicago, where he studied at the Art Institute (1952–6), before going to New York, where most of his paintings are set (although later works were often finished in his house in Maine). His first one-man show was held at the Allan Stone Gallery, New York, in 1968. He sustained a careful commitment to an unvarying subject-matter, usually the built environment of Manhattan, and to Photorealism. His realism is deceptive in that he rearranges the structure of what he originally sees and records through photographs, which form the basis of the final easel-size paintings, to reconstruct reality. He also expands the viewer’s information and sensory field beyond the powers of the naked eye, giving a depth and intensity of vision that only artistic transformation can achieve. Since the paintings are based on more than one photograph, the viewer of an Estes painting perceives, for example, a shop-front window, with a richness that is created by the artist’s technical skills. We can see the surface of the window glass, what it is reflecting, and what is behind it. This characteristic effect is wittily achieved in his ...

Article

Style of painting popular in Europe and the USA mainly from the 1920s to 1940s, with some followers in the 1950s. It occupies a position between Surrealism and Photorealism, whereby the subject is rendered with a photographic naturalism, but where the use of flat tones, ambiguous perspectives, and strange juxtapositions suggest an imagined or dreamed reality. The term was introduced by art historian Frank Roh in his book Nach-Expressionismus: Magischer Realismus (1925) to describe a style deriving from Neue Sachlichkeit, but rooted in late 19th-century German Romantic fantasy. It had strong connections with the Italian Pittura Metafisica of which the work of Giorgio De Chirico was exemplary in its quest to express the mysterious. The work of Giuseppe Capogrossi and the Scuola Romana of the 1930s is also closely related to the visionary elements of Magic Realism. In Belgium its surreal strand was exemplified by René(-François-Ghislain) Magritte, with his ‘fantasies of the commonplace’, and in the USA by ...

Article

Deborah A. Middleton

American group of artists active in the 1950s and 1960s who were part of a movement that was reacting to Minimalism, Abstract Expressionism and conceptual art by choosing to represent traditional subjects of nudes, portraiture, still lifes, landscapes and urban street scenes that often were plain and ordinary. The rise of consumerism and mass production inspired New Realist artists who returned to representing subjects as everyday and common visual encounters and experiences. The New Realist movement is in contrast to earlier forms of realism practiced by European artists whose works embody idealism or romanticize the commonality of the subject. New Realism is also associated with the emergence of Photorealism, where the camera captured the momentary fleeting naturalism of the subject. A common approach characteristically unifying New Realist artworks is the notion of the presence of the subject, which is understood as the representation of a neutral peripheral visual experience that exposes the subject prior to its discovery as a cognitive translation, intellectual or emotional response. Paintings and drawings present the perception of the real in a direct, clear and straightforward way using conventional drawing and painting techniques, and classical compositional approaches. Subjects are acutely observed and revealed with precise attention to detail and technical draftsmanship to disclose the detached presence of the subject itself....

Article

Kristina Wilson

(b Los Angeles, CA, Feb 28, 1977).

American painter. Wiley grew up in south central Los Angeles and at the age of 11 his mother began enrolling him in weekend art classes at area museums. He attributed his later focus on the genre of portraiture to his early exposure to portraits in the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, by Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds . He earned a bachelor’s degree from the San Francisco Art Institute, and then received an MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2001. He subsequently became the artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem. It was during this residency that Wiley developed the artistic program that would define his career for most of the next decade: large scale oil portraits of African American men wearing 21st century hip-hop-inflected attire (sweatshirts, down jackets, jeans, jewelry) in poses taken from old master paintings. Instead of a coherent narrative background, these figures stand against an abstract ground (a solid color or blue sky with billowing clouds) and are surrounded by ornate patterns (taken from a variety of sources) that swirl behind them and occasionally over their bodies. Wiley’s style is similar to that of the Photorealists of the 1970s, with its painstaking detail and lush, almost fetishistic attention to the folds of clothing and the glow of skin (...