The term Photorealism , often confused with “Hyperrealism” or “Superrealism” , was coined as a reference to those artists whose works depended heavily on photographs that they replicated on their canvases in such a precise and detailed way that they appeared to be an exact copy.

This movement emerged in the cities of the United States in 1968 , and its main characteristic was to create images in detail, to achieve a level of representation as close to reality as possible. Something that, until then, could only be appreciated in a similar way in “New Realism” .

John Baeder - The Magic Chef (1976)

John Baeder - The Magic Chef (1976)

In itself, photorealism rejects the qualities of conventional painting in which an artist's own characteristics can be easily appreciated. Quite the contrary, this style strives to create works that look as similar as possible to the photograph being copied , leaving the artist with fewer freedoms when creating, although it was not completely free of them.

Its great visual complexity is accompanied by the desire to be an emotionally neutral art where the idea of ​​the banal prevails, a characteristic that led it on different occasions to be compared to Pop Art , an art style that also emerged at the same time in that time. epoch.

Audrey Flack - Marilyn (1977)

The above is not far from reality, since the latter legitimizes the appropriation of popular iconography of consumer culture for artistic productions, as well as the use of painting methods such as airbrushing, the same method used by photorealism to create with accuracy of the images.

Robert Bechtle - Bolinas Garage (1977)

Robert Bechtle - Bolinas Garage (1977)

Although it also shared some elements with much older currents of modern art, such as perspective, the flattened composition space and the physical manifestation of a concept, it was frequently criticized, since for many it “betrayed modernism”, since it returned to a direct representation of reality.

Towards the end of the 90s, there was renewed interest in the art of photorealism , thanks to new technologies in the form of cameras and digital equipment that offered greater precision and detail.

Richard Estes, Jone's Diner, 1979, oil on canvas.

Richard Estes - Jone's Diner (1979)

Artists such as John Beader, Robert Bechtle, Charles Bell, Richard Estes and Audrey Flack , painted with photographic precision, and often included technical aspects in detail such as the reflection of objects on the glass of the display cases, or the play with the effects of light. light.

Alejandra Martinez