Photorealism, also known as Super-Realism, New Realism, Sharp Focus Realism or Hyper-Realism, involves artists employing photographs to create their paintings. The style evolved out of Pop art as a sort of resistance to Abstract Expression and Minimalism in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Photorealist artists create works that are hyper illusionistic; compelling viewers to wonder and marvel at the work’s resemblance to reality. Employing a variety of techniques artists seek to generate paintings with a high level of representational verisimilitude. Photo realists use the camera or photographs to gather information. They may also rely on a mechanical device to transfer the image to the canvas, such as a projector, though the artist still requires a high level of skill to complete the work. Usually employing multiple photographs, artists involved with the style are interested in technical or pictorial challenges that might include unique surfaces or textures.
Pioneers of the movement include painters such as Richard Estes, Robert Bechtle and Tom Blackwell. One of the best-known photorealist painters, Chuck Close, works using a gridded photograph. A spinal artery collapse in 1988 left Close severely paralyzed. After the injury Close continued to paint, creating large portraits in low-resolution grid squares created by an assistant. From afar, these squares appear as a unified image, but in pixelated form.
Today there are a myriad of artists practicing photorealism including Jason de Graaf, Alison Van Pelt, Paul Cadden, David Kassan, Gregory Thielker, Diego Fazio, Bryan Drury and Ben Weiner . With the advancement of technology, contemporary photo realist artists are able to achieve paintings that exceed the capabilities of photography—capturing details the lens may not, or achieving an extraordinary level of precision. Often these photo realists are referred to as hyperrealists as the images resemble one, or an amalgamation of, high-resolution photographs. Inspiring and impressive, photo realists’ works tease the imagination and challenge perception.
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As we wave goodbye to Halloween, let’s take a minute to mediate on the innately striking work of Diane Arbus and her unbiased approach to documenting not just the spookier side of humanity, but even more so, the masks or costumes we present to the world as a species, as human beings, as ourselves . . . year-round.
Now, when I use the word “unbiased” here I am not suggesting Arbus’s eye is roaming and invisible. Quite the contrary. Her eye is always distinctly there: focused, from one frame to the next. This “unbiased” quality has more to do with her indiscriminate examination of each subject in the same oddly intimate and unflinching way– regardless of class, age, gender, sexual preference, or race. In other words, a child with a toy hand grenade in the park looks equally as strange as the a woman lounging next to a toy poodle or a handful of residents dressed up on Halloween at a home for the mentally retarded. No one person, group, or act is more privileged. No one is all the more beautiful. We are all playing dress-up as far as identity and image is concerned.
By seeking out each individual’s innate desire to present him or herself and critically or creatively twisting that into her own perception of costume in each person’s presentation, Arbus became not just a photographer, but an alchemist, shifting our ideas of self, reality, and personal intention. Whether you are a part of celebrity culture or a more marginalized society spread out along the fringe, Arbus’s certain way of looking did not glorify one way of living over the other.
Perhaps Hilton Als explains this concept best in a New Yorker article:
“Above all, Arbus knew what this exchange meant—that is, the dialogue between the portraitist and her subjects, their reality and her imagination. ‘I work from awkwardness,’ she said. ‘By that I mean I don’t like to arrange things. If I stand in front of something, instead of arranging it, I arrange myself.’ That arrangement is about humility: you don’t change the subject, the subject changes you. Arbus’s pictures are characterized by a certain reverential silence; she listens as her subjects explain something of themselves. Listening and watching the slide show, one arranges one’s body not so much to fit the sound of Arbus’s language as to open oneself up to her enthusiasm for this or that image, and for the beautiful inscrutableness that comes with making anything at all. Indeed, one reason for Arbus’s continued controversy as an artist may have something to do with what she demands of the viewer: that they change their shape—their socially acceptable self—in order to meet her totemic drag kings and queens, nudists, soothsayers, and so on.”
So, in the vein of Arbus’s legacy, let’s toast our glasses in November to our own shape shifting beyond trick or treating– to these twistings in life, through the looking glass or lens, into the art of everyday presentation or performance, beyond this year and far into the next.
The post Diane Arbus: Photographing Freaks Or The Costumes We Wear Year-Round appeared first on Beautiful/Decay Artist & Design.
Recently, Ryan McGinness unveiled a custom black light ping-pong table that he designed for SPiN Standard at The Standard, Downtown LA. The New York-based artist stuck true to his graphic style for this custom table, utilizing his trademark iconography and design aesthetics to convey a complex and poetic concept. Take a look the photos below as well as a video documenting the Glow-Pong launch party hosted by McGinness, Kohn Gallery, Maker Magazine, and Quint Contemporary. http://vimeo.com/77823328 Discuss Ryan McGinness here.