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Seeing is believing with 'Photorealism Revisited'

Opening Thursday, the new special exhibition at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art features more than 60 paintings that are so realistic and detailed they just might trick viewers into thinking they're photographs.
by Brandy McDonnell Modified: January 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm •  Published: January 23, 2013

Inspired by pop art, Bell was an acclaimed photorealist who created paintings of marbles, dolls and other toys. Martin was known for his figure drawings using a painstaking technique called metal point.

Interpreting reality

The exhibit includes paintings by photorealism pioneers like Robert Bechtle, Chuck Close, Audrey Flack and Richard Estes as well as representing contemporary artists like Don Jacot, Cheryl Kelley, Peter Maier and Robert Neffson.

“This exhibition can simultaneously be historical and contemporary,” Klos said. “Even though it was created and started as an art movement in (about) 1970, it has almost been in existence ever since then. I think artists will always become followers or prefer the style of photorealism because it is something that is tangible.”

Some common themes emerge when comparing the works of the pioneering and contemporary artists.

“Urban scenes tend to be a popular subject matter because they're looking at scenes of everyday life and placing it in a very exact moment of time and place,” Klos said. “They're hyper-real snapshots of everyday life.”

Like Bechtle before her, Kelley captures and comments on America's obsessive car culture in her works, while Bell's 1994 “Kandy Kane Rainbow,” depicting a collection of bright, shiny marbles, dovetails neatly with Jacot's vivid 2007 close-up of a Flash Gordon toy.

“I think everybody'll be able to have an emotional connection because of all the nostalgia, especially in the pop art (works),” said Ralph Cornelius, the museum's marketing and communications manager.

Although they look lifelike, scale, color and perspective often are exaggerated in photorealist paintings to present a heightened version of reality.

“When the artist is working through a photograph, that's one interpretation of reality. They're then further reinterpreting it by transferring that image to the canvas,” Klos said. “So even though — and this is one of the harder challenges of photorealism — you're seeing something that looks highly photographic and highly realistic, it's not real life.”

by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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