Photorealism

An outgrowth of Pop art, photorealism is most closely associated with the artists of the 1960s and ’70s who replicated the sharply-focused look of well-composed photographs, such as Chuck Close, Richard Estes, and Malcolm Morley. In Europe, artists like Gerhard Richter and Franz Gertsch have likewise been referred to as photorealists, but for a different reason: The hazy quality and unexpected angles in their portrait paintings often resemble casual, blurred snapshots. “Perhaps because I’m sorry for the photograph, because it has such a miserable existence even though it is such a perfect picture, I would like to make it valid, make it visible,” Richter explains. “That is why I keep painting on and on from photographs, because I can’t make it out, because the only thing to do with photographs is paint from them.” Record auction sales for the photorealism movement include Richter’s Domplatz, Mailand (Cathedral Square, Milan) (1968) at $37 million, Close’s John (1971) at $4.8 million, and Morley’s SS Amsterdam in Front of Rotterdam (1966) at $1.8 million.

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