The practice of accurate representation in art is a centuries old concept. Artists honed their skills to record anything from faces (portraits) to places (landscapes), all as historical measures. With the entrance of the avant-garde however, representation fell out of the forefront leaving only emotions and color as descriptors. As the 20th century passed, representation slowly resurfaced in multiple art movements including that of Pop art.
Pop art is mainly associated with bright colors, industrial icons, and pop-culture references, and is readily seen as reactionary to the prolific use of photography seen at that time. Another separate reaction was seen with Photorealism. While Pop art was questioning the abundant use of photographic media, Photorealism was attempting to reclaim its value. Ironically enough, Photorealist artists used photographs to paint from, gathering all of the information and qualities from the photo to transpose into their painting. Since its establishment the incredibly tedious art form has maintained a consistently compelling history with artists such as Richard Estes, Audrey Flack, Robert Bechtle, and Chuck Close.
This tradition of painting has survived and flourished into the 21st century, with some original Photorealists continuing their work, such as Chuck Close, but also a new generation of Photorealists has reclaimed the genre of painting, such as Glennray Tutor (seen below), Diego Fazio, and Gregory Thielker.
Photorealism relies on the image as composition. The paintings are so similar to that of a photograph from a realistic sense, but also from the perspective. Seen as snapshots of society (storefronts and sidewalks) or recordings of possessions, these paintings project a moment frozen in time and "caught" by the artist. As contemporary artists utilize these concepts towards new material, Photorealism works as not only an art form, but a recording device.
Seen as a modernist movement, Photorealism has been criticized for its representation as a shift away from the more abstract and minimalist genres that frequented that time period. However, the art practice effectively executes a different perspective singular to that of abstraction and even its inspiration; photography.
Charles Bell, Tropic Nights, 1991. Courtesy of Parrish Art Museum.
Glennray Tutor, I Was A Space Refugee. Courtesy of glennraytutor.com.