The special exhibition “Photorealism Revisited,” organized by International Arts and on view through April 21 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, exhibition features more than 60 paintings by 38 photorealist artists who have embraced photography as a crucial part of the artistic process.
“Photorealism Revisited” features works by pioneers of photorealism including Robert Bechtle, Tom Blackwell, Charles Bell, Chuck Close, Robert Cottingham, Audrey Flack, Don Eddy, Richard Estes, Ralph Goings, Ron Kleemann, Richard McLean, and Ben Schonzeit, who each independently arrived at the decision to use photography as a source for their painting.
The term “photorealism” was coined by gallery owner Louis K. Meisel in 1968 to describe a group of artists who began favoring a new type of photographic realism in the
1960s. This aesthetic came about after the height of the modern, non-objective, and abstract expressionist art of the mid-20th century and the consumer-based imagery associated with Ppop art.
Photorealists were initially denounced for copying photography, and their work was dismissed for lacking artistic merit. Considered a reactionary fad, the art movement eventually gained recognition and reached its height in the 1970s. Artists continue to embrace photorealism today. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in figurative imagery, narrative content, and illusionistic space. The return of representational art among avant-garde artists has prompted a new review of photorealism that can be seen in works by artists such as Cheryl Kelley, David Parrish, Robert Gniewek, Don Jacot, Anthony Brunelli, Peter Maier, Robert Neffson, and others.
“You have to see it to believe because what you’re going to see are images that appear so photographic that it almost seems impossible that the artist would be able to contrive and create such detail through paint. This is detail through paint and through their technique that they can trick the eye,” Jennifer Klos, associate curator at the museum, told me in a recent interview.
“Even though they look very photographic — they look very realistic — they are certainly images that have been created only by an artist’s hand.”
Quintessentially American, although now an international art movement, many of the works in “Photorealism Revisited” focus on cars, trucks and motorcycles.
“There’s a huge nostalgic aspect in the automobile that I think pretty much every photorealist who paints a car is trying to tap into. It’s ‘remember how things you used to beautiful. Don’t forget. Don’t forget how much we valued beauty,’” Kelley, who has two paintings in the exhibition, told me in an interview.
The exhibition will be on view in the first-floor special exhibition gallery through April 21. In this NewsOK video, Angi Bruss offers a look at the exhibit.
For more information, go to www.okcmoa.com.