Contemporary Art, 1960s–present

Figurative Art

What is photorealism?

Photorealism, also called super-realism, sharp focus realism, and hyperrealism, developed in the 1970s as an extension of minimalism and pop art. It can even be considered a great-grandchild to Precisionism. Photorealistic paintings were influenced by photographic and media images, and like pop art, often feature impersonal, even banal subject matter inspired by everyday life. American photorealist artist Chuck Close (1940–) makes paintings so realistic that they seem like photographs by using a photo as a reference and painting his image on a grid with an airbrush. The artist Audrey Flack (1931–) creates photorealistic, still life paintings that recall baroque vanitas paintings. Photorealism often relies on trompe l’oeil, which means “trick of the eye” to communicate meaning and comment on social, political, and cultural themes. Other artists associated with photorealism include Robert Bechtle (1932–), Richard Estes (1932–), and British artist Malcolm Morley (1931–).


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Art History Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App