How to define hyperrealism?

Hyperrealism or photorealism is a figurative art movement that paints reality with a degree of sharpness and definition that is very similar to photographic precision but by using pictorial or sculptural techniques that make the image more vivid than a simple photograph. Hyperrealist art emerged in the late 1960s as a response to the abstract, conceptual and non-objective approaches of contemporary art. Initially, critics were not favourable, but it found its place in the fifth Documenta exhibition in Kassel, Germany, in 1972. Today, it has become an influential movement and remains active. In order to better comprehend it, let us get to know the characteristics, the authors and the most representative works of hyperrealism.

The peculiarities of hyperrealism!

Although hyperrealism expresses the influence of conceptual art and is often categorised as pop art because of its apparent thematic banality, it is considered a movement with its own well-defined characteristics. These features distinguish it from conceptualism and, above all, from pop art.  Hyperrealism is based on the philosophical notion of hyperreality, which was developed in the 20th century. It assumes that the human brain is unable to distinguish reality from fiction. Applied to art, the concept of hyperreality brings us closer to the simulacrum, whose realism is more convincing than the objective world.

Absolute descriptive realism!

The hyperrealistic work is usually so realistic that it seems more alive than the known reality. This is why artists hide all traces of the execution process with the perfection of the finish. Nothing can top the feeling of being in front of an artwork that seems to have a life of its own. Hyperrealism thus separates itself from movements that openly expose their processes such as Impressionism, Post-Impressionism or Abstract Expressionism, among others.

Virtuosity and attention to detail!

Virtuosity is linked to technical perfection, aiming at absolute definition and sharpness. This is why hyperrealism revels in a taste for detail, which reinforces realism. Virtuosity and a taste for detail give hyperrealism an academic tone which was a characteristic of Baroque art centuries ago. It is therefore not surprising that hyperrealism reminds us of the Baroque in its spirit of disenchantment with reality. Sensationalism reveals nothing else. The subjects of hyperrealist art are varied. Human figures, urban scenes and landscapes, still lifes, objects of consumer society, ephemeral moments, elements of nature, etc. are frequently encountered. These subjects give the appearance of being trivial while having the profound meaning of expressing the despair of the consumer society at the same time. They also allow the viewer to reflect on the role of the audiovisual media in their attempt to supplant reality.

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