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A few weeks ago we discussed Realism, as a style of art and now we take a look at a sub-branch of realism; photorealism.

The term photorealism applies to paintings from the US, beginning in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Photorealism is the style of painting which is based on the usage of cameras and photographs to gather the visual information and then creating a painting from those photographs which appears to be photographic. The use of photographs in photorealism was first met with intense criticism, despite the fact that visual aids have been used to assist artists with their work since the fifteenth century. In fact, photorealism began as a reactionary movement against the popularity of photographic media and its perceived threat to the value of imagery in art. Photorealist artists set out to reclaim the value of the painted image. whilst a photographer could capture an artist moment in time, a photorealist could take it further and capture a skilful painting of that same moment.

The basis of photorealism is that the photograph captures a moment frozen in time and the artist then recreates that moment in a painting. Once the photograph is created, the image is then systematically transferred to the canvas by the artist. The resulting image is often a direct copy of the photograph, only usually bigger than the original.

Due to the process involved that photorealist style is precise and exact requiring a high level of technical skill in order to recreate specifics such as reflections and man made environments.

Overall a photorealist’s work is defined by:

  • The use of a camera and photographs to gather information.
  • The use of a mechanical or semi-mechanical means, such as a projector to transfer the image to the canvas.
  • The use of technical ability and skill to make the final art work appear photographic in appearance.

Well known Photorealism Artists:Photorealism by Audrey Flack
Ralph Goings
Richard Estes

Chuck Close,
Audrey Flack.

The Ellen Michel Art School welcomes students interested in all styles
of painting. Enrol today for your opportunity to learn the technical skills to help create your own photorealism work of art.

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