What is Photorealism?

The American contemporary art style known as "photorealism" began in the 1960s and is distinguished by its focus on producing works of art that closely resemble pictures. This trend, often referred to as hyperrealism or superrealism, tries to recreate a picture with such great detail that it resembles a photograph nearly exactly. We shall define and elucidate a few of the main terminology related to photorealism in this glossary.

  • Photorealism: A painting style that dates back to the 1960s, photorealism aims to produce an accurate replica of an image in its subject matter. The goal is to faithfully portray every aspect of the subject matter in paint such that it may nearly be mistaken for the original image.
  • Hyperrealism: A phrase frequently used in conjunction with photorealism is hyperrealism. It is a somewhat distinct idea, though, in that it stresses both the enhanced sensation of realism that the depiction generates as well as its correctness and precision. Artwork that is hyperrealistic frequently has a surreal element that is absent from photorealism.
  • Superrealism: Superrealism is a different name for photorealism that highlights the thorough and in-depth treatment of the topic. The goal is to produce artwork that is more accurate and finely detailed than reality itself.
  • Verisimilitude: The trait of seeming real or truthful. In the context of photorealism, the goal is to produce a work of art that is so faithful to its subject matter that it seems more like a photograph than a painting.
  • Reference Image: Photograph or other visual source used as a reference by an artist to produce a photorealistic piece of art. Although the arrangement, lighting, and color of the artwork are guided by the reference image, it is not the intention to make an identical replica of the photograph.
  • Grisaille: A monochrome underpainting method frequently utilized in photorealistic paintings is called grisaille. Before adding color, the artist uses several tones of gray to define the tonal values of the piece. This method aids in giving the finished piece of art a sense of depth and three-dimensionality.
  • Trompe l'oeil: Trompe l'oeil is a French phrase that means to "fool the eye." Using this method, it is possible to provide the appearance of three-dimensional depth and space on a two-dimensional surface. The goal is to produce a piece of art that is so lifelike that the viewer mistakenly believes it to be a real thing.
  • Surface Texture: Surface texture refers to the look and feel of a surface, such as one made of cloth, metal, or wood. The goal of photorealistic painting is to convey as much realistic texture as possible. The artist used strategies including brushstrokes, glazing, and scumbling to give the finished piece a feeling of surface texture.
  • Photographic Realism: A word used to characterize works of art that, in terms of composition, lighting, and color, closely resemble photographs. The goal is to produce a piece of art that is so true to its topic that viewers would mistake it for a photograph rather than a painting.
  • Illusionistic Painting: Another name for photorealism that highlights the capacity of the artwork to produce a compelling appearance of reality is illusionistic painting. The goal is to produce a piece of art that is so lifelike that the viewer mistakenly believes it to be a real thing.

The goal of the art trend known as photorealism is to create images that are so faithfully rendered that they resemble photographs. By closely resembling reality, photorealistic artworks aim to attain a high level of verisimilitude, and they frequently employ tricks like grisaille, trompe l'oeil, and optical mixing to give the impression of depth and three-dimensional space. In order to obtain their intended look, artists might employ reference pictures, composite images, or glazing methods. Surface texture, depth of focus, and light source are also essential components in making photorealistic artworks.


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