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Visual Arts

Lens crafters

In a new exhibition, artists painstakingly work to create paintings that don’t look like paintings at all, but photographs.

Rod Lott January 29th, 2013

Photorealism Revisited
through April 21
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch

Don Jacot’s ‘Flash Gordon’ (2007)
Photo: International Arts

Prepare to be tricked. With the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s latest exhibition, what visitors see is not necessarily what is.

Now on display through April 21, Photorealism Revisited contains 64 works by 38 artists, from Oklahoma to the other side of the world. While the subjects depicted vary from landscapes and still life to bodies both human and automotive, they share one distinct element.

“They’re all paintings, even though they look highly photographic,” said Jennifer Klos, the museum’s associate curator.

In the photorealism movement, which began in 1960s America, artists rely on photographs to create works that appear to be photographs. Sometimes, Klos noted, the end result may be a composite of several images.

“You’re also looking at [an artist’s] interpretation. They take from the photograph what they want,” she said.

But no matter the number of snapshots sourced, “There’s no detail that’s been left behind. Sometimes the brush stroke is undetectable,” Klos said. “Details are accurate enough that we treat it as a real photograph.”

As with the movement in general, most of the Revisited pieces are paintings. One notable exception is New York-based artist Chuck Close’s depiction of his wife’s face, rendered not with a brush, but his thumbprints — a remarkable detail unnoticed until viewed up close and personal.

Klos said many of the exhibition’s works — ranging from 1970 to the tail end of 2012 — sport photographic techniques to help sell the illusion, whether cropping, blurring or light reflection.

“Light creates that three-dimensionality that gives it a lifelike quality,” she said.

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