Hyperrealism as Fine Art

“Deliverance” by Teresa Elliot

Hyperrealistic pictures brought art to many in the 21st century. The pictures, frequently used to define current trends as “pop” art (Read more here.) were often distributed through technological means (Read more here.). The “low art” aspects of the movement do not speak for the entire movement, though.

Like Teresa Elliott’s picture “Deliverance,” shown above, much of the artwork displayed in the hyperrealistic movement tells an important story. Many of these masterpieces are aesthetically interesting to people because of the immense talent that is required and attention to detail. However, the value in the works is not only as show pieces to display an artist’s craftsmanship, but also to tell a story, to share experiences and emotions and philosophies on life.

Though they appeal to the masses, these works have great aesthetic and cultural value. They are expressive examples of fine art during this time period and may prove to dramatically change the landscape of artistic appreciation.

Pop Art and Hyperrealism

krispy 560x417 Doug Bloodworth: Hyper realistic super hero paintings

By Jared Erickson

A great deal of hyperrealistic paintings and drawings depict “pop art.” Much like the pop art movement of the mid-20th century, these artworks depict objects commonly seen in everyday situations. Like traditional pop art, there are many pictures categorized as hyperrealism that show food objects, comic books, billboards, and random cultural objects. Some hyperrealistic creations combine aspects of pop art to make each painting. (Like the Jared Erickson picture at left depicting comics, food, and, in a way, advertising.)

By Sarah Graham

A Hyperrealistic Production

Two cast members (left) act in “Hedda Gabler” as two audience members look on in this New York Times picture (see link below).

Hyperrealism has touched into theater, but, at least for now, not as a large movement. The most significant example is a 2010 production of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. To make the setting “hyperrealistic,” the play was scheduled to take place in a New York City townhouse, rather than a theater. Only ticket holders would be given the address of the performances. Each show was open to only 25 people, with the audience sitting around the living room where the play took place, sometimes only inches from the actual action. The director hoped the audience would then get a closer sense of the characters. The show was labeled a “must-see.”

Without the need for electronic projection, stage voices, or even a stage, this style of hyperrealistic play presents a unique opportunity for audiences to really experience a work. And, as with Ibsen’s play, this style is not restricted to brand new productions.

This style of theater has not become overly popular, as yet. But during its 2010 run, the hyperrealistic production of Hedda Gabler sold out.

For more on this production of Hedda Gabler, check out these links:

Hyperrealism Drawing Time Lapse

When just viewing examples of hyperrealistic art — especially paintings and drawings — it’s sometimes hard for the brain to accept the image as a man-made work of physical art and not a photograph. Watching the work get created — like this brass mortar and pestle — helps to understand the artworks from its very creation and to reconcile what one sees and understands.

Perks to Hyperrealism

Old man pencil by francoclun

By Franco Clun

Hyperrealism’s attention to detail makes it more approachable for many people. Poet Ren Powell quotes a description of hyperrealistic art as “clearer and more distinct than the subject itself.” Some aesthetic philosophers propose that for a work to be aesthetically valuable, it should mimic real-life items. Hyperrealism is the ultimate expression of real-life objects, depicting them with amazing clarity. And, while structurally and technically, the movement is defined by the uncanny ability to mimic everyday sounds and images, the ability to mirror existing things is not what hyperrealism is about. The emotions, expressions, and symbolism that can clearly be seen through these works is the defining quality. Through these detailed pictures, viewers are given an opportunity to view the artist’s reality. The reality is seen clearly through the intimate details of each image. The realistic qualities of the works make them easier for the audience to connect and relate to and help provide direct information. For many who view art as abstract (even when it doesn’t strictly fit the technical definition) these pieces are easy to relate to and not overwhelming to try to interpret.

A Hyperrealistic Poem

For more information and an example of hyperrealism in literature, click here.

This is an example of hyperrealistic poetry. This is an excerpt from Ren Powell’s Red-eared Slider.

A child unconscious                                                An child consciously
under cold water                                                     held under cold water 
experiences laryngospasm,                                     reaches the breaking point
asphyxiates,                                                             after eighty-seven seconds,
but the heart                                                            inhales
keeps                                                                        involuntarily,
beating                                                                     but the heart keeps beating.
five                                                                           Ashes falling on water
full                                                                           float
minutes—                                                                like rotting wood,
every instant bobbing in and out of view.

Read the whole poem here.

Hyperrealism and Literature

Literary hyperrealism is not as common as the visual arts, but a movement, nonetheless. In literature, hyperrealism is actually very similar to the visual arts. There is a great amount of detail — vivid descriptions. Literary hyperrealism lacks opinion and biased description. It tells how things are happening through the course of the work, rather than how the characters or author see things.

One example of hyperrealistic literature is Canadian best-seller Alligator by Lisa Moore. Below is an excerpt, as quoted by Maria Jesus Hernaex Lerna:

The balloon looks like a hole burned through the sky. There’s no wind, but the balloon jerks when the little girl shifts her weight. It jerks to the side and bobs and then settles, becomes still. There isn’t a cloud. The little girl’s blond hair is spread over her shoulders and bits of sunlight come through it and some of her hair is full of static and it stands up and the sun makes it buzz with light.