A noteworthy photorealist artist in our collection is, in the spirit of contemporary photorealism, using the movement’s style and technique to create surrealist images. London-based artist, Mark Metcalfe’s paintings are dreamlike, addressing the blurred lines between what is memory and what is imagination. As shown in his work Stigmatic Girl, Metcalfe uses a snapshot in time to develop a narrative within his paintings.
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Photorealism is very much a genre of our time. It’s a fairly recent art movement that involves the recreation of photographs through painting, drawing and sculpture. Photorealist artists use cameras to capture and study their subject matter which they then try to recreate as closely as possible. Photorealism can be practiced in many mediums, and stylistically the genre relies on the precise depiction of its subject matter.
A branch of the much older art movement, realism, photorealism developed as a response to the invention of the camera. The advent of photography in the 19th century led to artists using cameras as visual aids and photographs as source material for their work. Although the movement is primarily associated with painting and drawing, there are a number of sculptors associated with photorealism for their lifelike sculptures of real people with hair and real clothes – think Madame Tussauds.
Photorealism began in America in the 1960s and 70s. According to art critics, it evolved from Pop Art and as a counter to Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism. Unlike these art movements, Photorealism is a richly detailed genre that’s concerned with capturing minute elements of real scenes.
For artists to be considered as part of the movement, they must have exhibited work in the genre before 1972. But since the genre relies on the camera, the latest developments in photographic technology are helping artists innovate in the genre today. Cameras have changed a great deal since the 1970s and so have the processing software used to alter images. Artists are able to edit and alter the images in ways unimaginable at the start of the movement, causing many to move on from the strict definition of photorealism as the reproduction of the photograph.
The evolution of photography has brought about photorealistic paintings that surpass what was once thought possible in painting. These newer paintings are now referred to as Hyperrealism. Contemporary photorealism artists are combining elements of photorealism with other mediums and media as the genre continues to grow in popularity.