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Old 06-21-2019, 12:17 PM
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Pinguino Pinguino is offline
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Realism, non-realism, and all that

Over in the Oil Painting Technical forum, there is a question about artist versus student grade paints. Naturally, the thread drifted off-topic, and turned into a vehement discussion regarding realism versus non-realism, and all variations thereof, with examples from various artists.

So, in order to keep that other thread on topic, I started this thread. Does not necessarily apply to oil painting. The subject will be the various styles of art, realistic or not, with examples. This will give us the opportunity to praise others who have our own taste in art, while condemning others whose tastes differ. Gently, of course.

My own input: I don't particularly like photo-realism in painting. As technique, fine. But it reminds me of one of those contests where someone stands at the free-throw line in basketball, and rapidly makes numerous shots, with balls fed from a machine. Very admirable as a skill, but not as a sport.

I think that's because many photo-realistic paintings are merely a photo converted to paint. If the original subject isn't all that interesting, then the painting won't be interesting either. The first photo-realistic painting I ever saw (in person) was at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was of a stack of cabbages. Really and truly looked like a photo of a stack of cabbages, even when viewed closely, except it was painted. Ho-hum.

The somewhat photo-realistic paintings that I like, are not based on ordinary photos. They are realistic in the sense that a traditional movie stage set (not special effects) is realistic. Think of the film Cleopatra (1963 version). We can be sure that, for all the wealth and glory of Ptolemaic Egypt, they didn't look or dress like Liz Taylor and Richard Burton! So, the movie poster is realistic (based on actual people and stage costumes), maybe even photo-realistic, but it is not an ordinary photo.

In the Legion of Honor art museum in San Francisco is a very large painting, The Russian Bride's Attire. The online photo does not do it justice; the original is very colorful and very detailed. I do not know if the artist used live models and real costumes, but my guess is that he did. No photo would ever be like that, except maybe as a stage set at the peak of Hollywood extravaganzas, decades ago. Magnificent.

Somewhat related is the Hudson River School of idealized nature. The De Young museum in SF has several of these. Beautiful, when seen directly. Realistic? Only in imagination! Not far away is Sargent's Trout Stream in the Tyrol, which is quite painterly and very interesting. Wish I could do that. Both the fishing and the painting!

We are all familiar with the various religious-themed European works from the Post-Renaissance, so I won't provide specific links. Some of those are more realistic than others, in terms of human form. What they have in common is that the composition is the artist's own, and is meant to illustrate a point or tell a story. Wish I could do that.

Then, there is art that is merely decorative, meant to fill space in a pleasant manner, and possibly be unobtrusive. This kind of art may be quite abstract. Wish I could do that, but I have no large walls to fill.

And now for a second opinion. And a third, etc. ...
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Old 06-21-2019, 06:54 PM
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JohnEmmett JohnEmmett is offline
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

Realism is prose; prose is fallen poetry. Abstraction is poetry; poetry is fallen music.
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Old 06-21-2019, 07:15 PM
olive.oyl olive.oyl is offline
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

OPINION #3

I feel like you do (Pinguino) about photorealism. It’s “Wow. That looks JUST like a photo. I wonder how they do it?” And then I move on. I’m impressed but not engaged.

I want to FEEL a connection and linger awhile. And I don’t mind being challenged (annoyance is better than boredom). And I like to experience some jealousy to give me something to inspire to. So, if I really WANTED to learn how to do photorealism and considered it some kind of pinnacle of artistic achievement, I suppose it would naturally engage me more.

My favorite style of painting is still (what I think of as) post-impressionist looking work. I like unnatural colors, outlines around anything, or curlicue lines anywhere, and decorative, graphic elements. I don’t care much about shadows and light, perspective and tone. ETC. That all comes too close to math or science or reality and as I like to say, “I hate reality!” I’d rather just play around in something surreal or fantastical or deconstructed.

To make what’s real...more unreal.
This is why I’m a cartoon person.

For reals...!
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Old 06-21-2019, 10:02 PM
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

I do admire those who have the patience to produce a photo realistic painting, but i don't have that patience or the desire to acquire it.

I think painting is for those things never found in a photo and that's what i paint, non reality - aka contemporary representational abstracts - so i can feel importantly titled

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Old 06-21-2019, 11:15 PM
Michael Lion Michael Lion is offline
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

I thought the discussion was about why people don't paint like Bouguereau anymore.
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Old 06-22-2019, 12:06 AM
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Lion
I thought the discussion was about why people don't paint like Bouguereau anymore.

because they're not Bouguereau
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Old 06-22-2019, 07:37 AM
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

I like Richard Estes. His does photo realism but it isn't something found in ONE photo. He takes different scenes and stitches them together. Some call his work super realism. I like photos and paintings of urban scenes. The one piece of his I've seen in person was wonderful. You don't walk up to it thinking it is a photo, you know it is painting but with exceptional realism.

I do realism but not photo realism. I looked into how photo realism is done and I have no interest in doing it myself. At this point in my life, I actually want to loosen up with my art, not go more realistic.

I think most people with no knowledge of art think the goal of painting and drawing is to exactly duplicate life. They would be surprised how many of their favorite realistic paintings are 100% realistic

There is also the matter of personal tastes. We don't all have to like the same things - thank goodness!
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Old 06-22-2019, 12:24 PM
Artyczar Artyczar is offline
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

I like both, depending on the subject matter. I have seen plenty of nonrepresentational paintings that suck and/or bore the pants off of me. There are many paintings I have seen that are technically outstanding, figurative pieces in particular, where the subject is posed in such a way, or is in an environment that is compelling, and I have been moved to tears.

I am not a huge fan of still lifes: fruit items or table settings and such--unless they are highly stylized and not hyper-realistic. But that's not what you're talking about I assume. You're talking about photo-realism, so for that subject matter, I'm just "meh."

Certain landscapes can move me as well, depending. If it's something so beautiful, I can't help but admire it, but probably not because it's realistic. I may have just loved the subject, and had it been painted without being like a photo, I would like it the same, but probably more. I tend to lean to painting that is stylized.

I still respect those with the skill to pull it off. It is not easy and it requires an incredible amount of study. That's not to say those artists are more dedicated to their craft than artists that have honed their style though. I don't believe that to be true. I think we all are always learning, even in old age, and can always use more and more practice in all genres, even if we are making dots on the canvas. I think it's good to exercise the brain so we don't lose our minds.
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Old 06-22-2019, 12:30 PM
Artyczar Artyczar is offline
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinguino
The somewhat photo-realistic paintings that I like, are not based on ordinary photos. They are realistic in the sense that a traditional movie stage set (not special effects) is realistic. Think of the film Cleopatra (1963 version). We can be sure that, for all the wealth and glory of Ptolemaic Egypt, they didn't look or dress like Liz Taylor and Richard Burton! So, the movie poster is realistic (based on actual people and stage costumes), maybe even photo-realistic, but it is not an ordinary photo

I wonder if you are talking about the Theda Bara poster? I did a take on that image when I was in my 20s. I did a series of what I called "Target Heads," whereby I took iconic people to be targets of deep inspection in society, as if to be under a kind of reprimand because of their celebrity. I thought it was interesting at the time and my work had a lot of social commentary back then.

I'll see if I can dig up any kind of photo of it. It's not going to be great though, just a warning. I also did a Valentino image.

I found some images, but they are small, not great photos. They are also displaying larger than they are, so WC is making them very blurry.




Last edited by Artyczar : 06-22-2019 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 06-22-2019, 01:13 PM
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

I wasn't talking about the Theda Bara poster. I was talking about the film sets (and posters) with Liz and Richard et. al.

As for that other thread and Bouguereau: Yes, that was the drift. But it seemed to me that it was part of a more general relationship of realism to other things. The artist in question painted things such as cutesy angels, but did so in a way that the forms were modifications of idealized human reality. The main difference between this style, and my mention of Cleopatra, is that the little angels don't tell a story; they are merely decorative.
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Old 06-22-2019, 07:08 PM
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

While phot-realistic painting wouldn't rank as my favourite type or style of art, what I find I do like about it is staring at the painting analyzing it from the point of view of colour and value, knowing that an artist had to make conscious decisions on how to capture reality with their brushes. I find I can spend a lot more time with a painting than a photograph.

For the same reason I do enjoy looking at Still Life paintings, whether they are phot-realist or not. Again, it isn't my favourite genre, but I still like seeing how the artist modelled the subject and made the light fall on the objects and seeing the story that is sometimes suggested by an assortment of objects.
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Old 06-22-2019, 07:51 PM
Artyczar Artyczar is offline
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinguino
I wasn't talking about the Theda Bara poster. I was talking about the film sets (and posters) with Liz and Richard et. al...

Oops. How embarrassing. I wish there was still time to edit my post so I could take down those images.
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Old 06-23-2019, 10:29 AM
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

Realism is prose; prose is fallen poetry. Abstraction is poetry; poetry is fallen music.

You can repeat this ad infinitum. I doesn't make it the least bit true. It remains pure bunk.
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Old 06-23-2019, 10:55 AM
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

While I have a preference for art that employs a greater degree of "artifice": visible brushwork, expressive distortions, saturated artificial color, etc... I find that there are works of abstract art that I quite admire, and there are works of photorealism... superrealism... hyperrealism... that I find stunning. I'm not limited in my admiration for a single style or approach to painting any more than I am with my musical taste. I love Romantic-era symphonies, Baroque concertos, jazz, bluegrass, and rock/pop. Or rather... I like some... the finest... in each genre/style.

I'll never be able to paint like him... but damn! I love Ingres!


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Old 06-23-2019, 11:18 AM
DaveCrow DaveCrow is offline
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Re: Realism, non-realism, and all that

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinguino
Somewhat related is the Hudson River School of idealized nature. The De Young museum in SF has several of these. Beautiful, when seen directly. Realistic? Only in imagination!

Having painted in (very nearly) the exact spots many of the Hudson River School painters did I can testify that their painting are a lot more realistic than people give them credit for. the landscapes really do look like that if you catch them with the right light.
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