Friday, July 31, 2015

Richard Estes

John Wilmerding
Rizzoli Publications
Reviewed by Nancy
5 out of 5 stars


Richard Estes (b.1932) is one of America's leading photorealist painters. This new large-format book will cover fifty-five years of Estes's work, from 1950 to 2005, and will include paintings, watercolors, and preparatory sketches. Estes is regarded as one of the most important painters of the New York urban landscape. The crisp clarity of Estes's paintings is reminiscent of photography, yet upon closer inspection his work reveals elements and perspectives that do not exist in reality and have more to do with minimalism and realism than with traditional landscape painting. The book will also include his work of the last ten years, much of which will be published here for the first time. A detailed chronology and list of exhibitions and public collections are included.

My Review

After enjoying a magnificent photorealism exhibit at my local art museum and reading Richard Estes’ Realism, I just can't get enough of the artist, so I dragged this big book home from the library.

It was published in 2006 and covers fifty-five years Estes’ work through 2005.

John Wilmerding does a nice job discussing Estes’ life, his career, his artistic influences, and the detailed processes of creating his art.

“Estes will take hundreds of photos, often returning to reshoot a site of special appeal. He will print up dozens of contact sheets, from which to select and then assemble the parts of a tentative composition.”

By using a combination of photographs, the artist can then create an original piece that is so meticulously detailed, the delicate brushstrokes practically invisible, that it looks as precise as a photograph. Yet, if you look at the work closely, there is a sense of unreality about it that makes it unique.

Among my favorite paintings are Estes’ richly detailed NYC street scenes that are so effective at evoking particular moments in the city’s history. I’m really glad this book devotes a large section to these works.

The book has a few flaws, however. I wish the paintings had been better organized. I found myself flipping through the book numerous times to see what painting the text is referring to. There was also a lot of white space that could have fit larger versions of certain paintings. It’s a minor complaint, though. If you are interested in photorealism and the work of Richard Estes, this book is a perfect choice.

Check this out! My local museum recently acquired Baby Doll Lounge for its permanent collection.

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