What is photorealism?

Cedric Chambers
March 7, 2015
Original oil Painting Contemporary Art Origami

What is photorealism? Photorealism is the reproduction of a photograph including the lens aberration(s) and distortion(s). What defines renaissance art is the subject matter, and the use of the Atelier Method, in which an artist works from life. By 'life', I mean more often than not the renaissance artist was forced to work from sculptures and other artists painting's.

Ideologically speaking, renaissance art does not represent what was actually going on in the world, there are few things that are actually 'real' within renaissance art. The scenes in renaissance art are often biblical, the portraits are often embellished, and the technical know-how is often subpar compared to that of contemporary photo-realists. This is due to the advancements made within painting due to the industrialization of art.

The Animated Theories of Clement Greenberg

When I critique Clement Greenberg, I am not talking about the obvious critiques. Which are nicely put together in the video above.

  1. Since Abstract Expressionism is popular within the commercial setting, isn’t it kitsch?
  2. What about Dada and Surrealism?

I'm talking about the not so obvious critique. If you can attach meaning to swaths on a canvas, do it with this painting, or anything for that matter., like poop on the sidewalk. Everywhere I go I see abstract expressionism. It's in high art galleries, it's in low art galleries, it's on street corners. Greenberg states that the purpose of the avant garde is to prevent art from stagnating, but abstract expressionism is pretty stagnant. Formally declaring ‘something’ as the epitome of ‘something’, discourages people from appreciating advances in that ‘something’. If you say that abstract expressionism is the end of art, then you immediately dismiss any innovation in art that occurred after Abstract Expressionism - and there have been countless innovations which have shaped painting. Text books end at the Abstract Expressionist movement. It’s almost as if the art historians are attempting to forget the last 50 years of Contemporary Art. Maybe they’re embarrassed. It’s like they’re all stuck. The educated and uneducated alike; literally do not know the difference between renaissance art and photo-realism. Photo-realism occurred as a reaction to abstract expressionism. There is no comparison to a painting by Daniel Sprick to any painting by Michel Angelo because Daniel Sprick is on an entirely different skill level.

The photo-realist aims to undo what was done by the abstract expressionist, they do the opposite of splurging on a canvas. Photo-realism is Contemporary Art, it even shaped the art education system to include projectors; an innovation in art. Jackson Pollock is dead and Chuck Close is alive and well. There are even new movements in art, like anti-institutional street art and Digital art. Abstract expressionism was never the end of painting, and the people who say it is might be a little too into themselves.

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