Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion



In 1968 an exhibition entitled "Realism Now" was held at Vassar College under the direction of Linda Nochlin, a noted art historian and professor at the school. The exhibition sought to present a cross-view of recent American painting in the realistic mode. Included in the catalog were twenty-five artists including Jack Beal, Robert Bechtle, Richard Estes, Alex Katz, Alfred Leslie, Malcom Morely and Philip Pearlstein, as well as many other artists who, at the time, were relatively unknown. The exhibition generated a great deal of attention, not only because of its recognition of contemporary representational painting as an influential movement, but also because of its provocative and elusive title.

A year after the Vassar exhibition the Milwaukee Art Center staged a show involving seventeen of these same artists and titled it "New Realism." A similar exhibition was mounted at the Whitney Museum in 1970 entitled "Twenty Two Realists," and the representational image was back again to stay.

After these exhibits a variety of terms were coined to name the many different styles that fell under the umbrella term of realism. Photo-realism, New Realism, Sharp-focus Realism and Superrealism suddenly found their way into the literature of art criticism, and the need to define and study this new trend was quickly made necessary.

Within each designated school of painting there are as many different ideas about art and how it should be approached as their are artists in that school. With the Superrealists it is no exception. I have found the art of Chuck Close, Richard Estes and Audrey Flack to be good examples of the leading trains of thought in Superrealism. Close uses the photograph as a subject while Estes sees the photograph as basically a tool in painting. Flack uses the photograph as a starting point for symbollist work. It is within the ideas of these three different styles that Superrealism derives much of its appeal. It is the common technique which holds us in fascination.