Richard Estes, born in 1936, is one of the greatest exponents of photorealism, a style that we can consider 100 x 100 of United States, and whose aesthetic was undoubtedly a strong commitment to a resounding return to figurative painting, after the success of various abstract currents.
Seagram Building by Richard Estes
In fact, the basis of photorealism is the art of photography, and despite what it may seem at first, it does not consist of a mere transcription of the photo into canvas. Actually, artists like Estes, or Chuck Close, Don Eddy or Philip Pearlstein, aim to capture the reality in an absolutely objective way. They want to completely disassociate themselves from the subject they portray and show it as it is, to show it to everyone who does not know it, without giving an opinion on that matter or contributing a single drop of subjectivity.
And they strive to paint anything with that intention, and they do it with extraordinary sharpness, so much so that sometimes it can seem to us that when we observe, for example, the works of Estes that we have improved our vision.
To achieve this, they resort to the use of photographs. And it is about many photographs of the same subject, so there can be zooms or images of a view in which one subject is focused each time. With this he manages to have all the clear elements orfocused, something that never happens with our own vision. In that aspect we cannot speak of realism.
Also. Richard Estes also those photos to find and highlight the geometric shapes of the buildings he portrays. And the second step after geometry is to look for color relationships between shapes, and if necessary manipulate them.
A magnificent example of all this is this painting en titled Seagram Building, which is part of the series Paisajes Urbanos that he made in the year 1972. It is a work in which we see the entrance of the Seagram building, a trace of the art of the architect Mies Van der Rohe in New York, who is known for public buildings such as the German Pavilion or private residences such as the Farnsworth House.
The fact is thatEstesuses the entrance to this building to dedicate himself to representing the reflections of it, and thereby provoke a feeling of hyper-reality. Since obviously the glass of the access to the Seagram building causes many reflections, but not all of them are visible from a single glance. And that is what the painter proposes to us, who with a single image wants to capture all those visual games, which he also shows in an extraordinarily clear way. In short, this type of painting is called photorealism, when in reality what we see is not what our eyes actually see, or at least in a single vision.