Friday, May 8, 2015

Richard Estes' Realism

Patterson Sims, Jessica May, Helen Ferrulli
Portland Museum of Art
5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Nancy


Richard Estes (b. 1932) is one of the most celebrated adopters of Photorealism; his paintings are characterized by painstaking detail that mimics the clarity and accuracy of photographs. Estes’ most famous canvases from the 1970s depict New York’s urban landscape, and his manner of painting reflections in a multitude of metal and glass surfaces displays astounding technical skill. In his subsequent career, Estes has continued to demonstrate his superlative ability to show complex plays of light and shadow in Maine seascapes, views of Venetian lagoons, and nighttime street scenes.

Accompanying Estes’ first solo exhibition of paintings in the United States in over two decades, Richard Estes’ Realism surveys fifty years of his work and places him within the historical narrative of realist painting. The authors explore the ongoing modernist dialogue between camera and canvas, and discuss the situation of Estes’ work at the crossroads of painting and photography. Fifty full-page plates showcase the amazing precision of Estes’ paintings, and a thorough chronology and bibliography provide an enlightening account of his life. This handsome book offers a lavish presentation of Estes’ spellbinding body of work that attests to his enduring artistic impact.

My Review

It was a rainy Saturday and a perfect time to go to my local art museum and discover the work of photorealists Richard Estes, Robert Bechtle, Ralph Goings, Audrey Flack, and others.

The exhibit was small, but very well displayed and comprehensive. I enjoyed having a latte in the café and buying a pair of colorful socks made in Vermont from the museum store.

I loved Robert Bechtle’s subdued suburban scenes and classic cars.

Audrey Flack’s bright and colorful still lifes are shiny and eye catching.

I especially loved Richard Estes’ realistic paintings of New York with their depth, history, and abundance of reflective surfaces.

After seeing the exhibit, I went immediately in search of books about Richard Estes and came across this gorgeous, well-organized book that presents a thorough and absorbing account of the artist’s life, his work, and his influences. 50 pages are devoted to full-color plates of his paintings from New York and other places he’s traveled to.

The book ends with a chronology of the artist’s life and career beginning in 1932 with his birth and ending in 2013 with marriage to his longtime partner, Chris Jones.

Mr. Estes at his home in Northeast Harbor, Maine. RALPH GARDNER/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

This book is a treasure, and I’m thrilled that my library had a copy.

No comments:

Post a Comment