from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John's Diner with John's Chevelle , 2007
John Baeder , oil on canvas, 30 × 48 in.

Photo-realism is a style of extremely naturalistic painting that was developed after Pop Art , especially in the USA .


The style of photorealism emerged in the late 1960s and early 70s. Documenta 5 in Kassel in 1972 can be seen as the first public appearance . The images and sculptures of "US American Photo Realism " broke long-term taboos that existed in Germany in particular with regard to reproductive realism and which arose as a distinction from art in the time of National Socialism and from Socialist Realism .

The irritations arose not least from the misunderstanding of the artistic intention of photorealism, whose artists were less interested in specific excerpts of reality than in the most exact possible implementation of the representation of photography in painting and the resulting effects and possibilities. The pictures, conceived and painted as reproductions of reproductions, appear, if they - as here - are only reproduced, in renewed reproduction and thus reduced to what they started from as a photo . Characteristic is the detailed naturalism that goes as far as the illusion of the eye. Such fatal confusion of reality and image uncertainty solidified the accusation that this art was mere copyist virtuosity, sheer photo and reality imitation. What looks like a photo in the illustration, however , reveals in the original the decisive traits of an interpretation of reality, of its own image reality.

The photorealists usually used a slide or several with everyday motifs from their environment as a template . Your relationship to the content of your pictures should be neutral and as objective as possible. They preferred motifs with detailed, specific, often reflective surfaces.

A specialty emerges among the photorealists in which every artist strives for technical mastery and virtuosity in a relatively limited subject area. These possibilities of assignment had been lost through the elimination of the artist's personal handwriting. Richard McLean mainly showed breeding horses and their proud owners, Chuck Close oversized head portraits, Richard Este's reflecting shop windows, Robert Cottingham lettering on neon advertising, Ralph Going's cars and fast food restaurants, Don Eddy intact and John Salt damaged and rusted cars, David Parrish motorcycles, John Clem Clark and John Kacere Nudes and Ben Schonzeit Wrappings.

In Europe, the Swiss artist Franz Gertsch in particular pursued photo-realistic goals. He is primarily concerned with the presence of his characters, with the representation of the attitude towards life in the 1970s. He showed his friends, a group of performance artists, and family pictures. “I have to feel the possibility in the templates to be able to use my painterly media appropriately in order to capture life” (Gertsch).

The motivation behind photorealism largely overlaps with 2D and 3D computer graphics to create increasingly realistic images, but is tied to painting.

Other representatives of photorealism include Robert Bechtle , Roberto Bernardi , Robert Cottingham , Helmut Ditsch , Richard McLean , Raimond Staprans , Howard Kanovitz , Chuck Monroe , Yigal Ozeri , Stephen Posen , John Salt , Paul Sarkisian , Ben Schonzeit , Raphaella Spence , Paul Staiger , Gottfried Helnwein (partly attributable to hyperrealism), Werner Fohrer in Germany Jan Peter Tripp , Gerhard Richter , Matthias Holländer , Fritz Köthe , in France Jean-Olivier Hucleux .

Photorealism is related to hyperrealism (differences are explained under hyperrealism).


  • Otto Kammerlohr: From Expressionism to Postmodernism . In: Werner Broer, Walter Etschmann, Robert Hahne (Hrsg.): Epochs of Art . Revision. 2nd Edition. tape 5th : 20th century. Oldenbourg Schulbuchverlag, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-637-87525-8 .
  • Otto Letze (Ed.): Photorealism. 50 years of hyper-realistic painting . Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern 2012, ISBN 978-3-7757-3532-2 .

Web links

Commons : Photorealism  - collection of images, videos and audio files