Photorealistic

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"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—just make it […] 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." –Gerhard Richter

Though it has come to refer generally to painting that emulates the look of photographs, typically with hyperrealistic clarity, the term "photorealistic" traces its roots to Photorealism, the American art movement of the 1960s and ’70s. An outgrowth of Pop Art, Photorealism is most closely associated with artists who replicate the highly-focused look of well-composed, sharply-focused photographs, such as Chuck Close, Richard Estes, and Malcolm Morley. However, 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 candid portraits resemble casual, often blurred snapshots. Today, artists who emulate the look of photographs make work in both ways (and in between), and as a result, push the boundaries of what constitutes a photorealistic image. Is it the crisp, extreme focus of a well-lit photograph, or the imitation of poor, faded, or murky photographic scenes?

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