Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Author's Department


First Advisor

Ben P. Watkins


This thesis describes the methods of New Realist painting ( also known as Sharp-Focus Realism, Photo-Realism, Super Realism and Hyper-Realism ) and its philosophy of objectivity behind the photographic approach and the choice of subject-matter. It also points out that this aim for total objectivity is ultimately unattainable.

A definition of New Realism in painting follows in Chapter One, which also deals with the factors separating it from other photographically realistic styles - the primary distinction being the constant striving of New Realism for complete objectivity.

Chapter Two deals with the influences responsible for the emergence of New Realism. Pop Art made it acceptable to use mass-produced items as subjects for paintings and introduced new techniques, taken from the world of advertising. Abstract art, which is the background common to most 'first generation' New Realists was responsible in part for the overall approach and the attention to the two-dimensional surface of the canvas. The philosophy of objectivity derives from that of a French group of writers belonging to a movement called 'Chosisme' (or Thingism) which evolved during the 1940's.

Chapter Three is concerned with the aims and methods of some of the most prominent painters associated with the New Realist movement; their subject-matter and their approach to it; and why some of them should not be labelled New Realists at all. The artists dealt with are; Malcolm Morley, Richard Estes, Don Eddy, Chuck Close, John Clem Clarke, Philip Pearlstein, Robert Bechtle, Ralph Goings, Robert Cottingham, Richard McLean, Joseph Raffael, Audrey Flack and Sylvia Mangold.

The thesis concludes with a description of my work, which uses the photograph but otherwise could not be described as New Realist, in its methods or its subjective approach; and it reiterates the original statement that although the goal of the New Realist painters is to be totally objective, and that this is their most important distinguishing factor, they are unlikely ever to realise this goal.

This thesis is illustrated.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.