Photorealism: 50 years of hyperrealistic painting


Cynthia, 1982, by John Kacere

For the first time, a Belgian museum is presenting a retrospective exhibition about photorealistic paintings. The Museum of Ixelles/Elsene in Brussels tells us the story of Photorealism (also known as Hyperrealism), from its origin in the 60’s until now.



America’s favourite, 1989, by Ralph Goings

Photorealism or hyperrealism is all about creating confusion for the viewer. Is it a picture or a painting? Is it made by a photographer or an artist? Is it art or reality? The first hyperrealistic painters in the late 60’s wanted to make a painting that showed the reality exactly as it was. As the reproduction techniques became more and more modern over the years, the next generations had an even more ambitious goal: to make a painting that is more real than reality itself! There has been a lot of criticism on this art movement, because some say that an artist should always give his own interpretation of reality, rather than just making a copy. Still, I think that every reproduction of reality is always someone’s interpretation. The artists represented in this exhibition want to question our perception of reality. Let’s see how it all began!

The first and second generation


Alameda Chrysler, 1981, by Robert Bechtle

Several American artists started painting in a very realistic way in the late 60’s.  Like in the Pop Art movement, their work was about daily life objects and the American way of life: cars, fastfood, home interiors and of course the female body. The paintings were usually based on a real picture that was then enlarged on canvas.


Cameo, 1988, by Davis Cone

In the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s the hyperrealistic art scene became more and more international. With the European artists there came a few new subjects: the city and its suburbs, shining engines, panoramic views and movie theaters 

The third generation


Fried Egg, 2015, by Tjalf Sparnaay

What differs the third generation from the previous ones, is the availability of all kinds of digital techniques. With these new techniques, it became possible to make an almost perfect representation of reality. The subjects didn’t change much: daily objects, food, still lives, cities, but also nature and people.


Confini Segreti, 2013, by Robert Bernardi

To be honest, the shiny cars and motorcycles at the start of the exhibition weren’t really appealing to me. Technically they were quite impressive, but that’s all. This candy on the other hand immediately put a smile upon my face 🙂 .  And after all, that’s what I’m looking for in a work of art, that it does something to me in some way.

More info?

You can visit the expo until 25/09/2016, prices are €5 to €8.

Museum website




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