Painting a picture

Photorealism: 50 years of hyperrealistic painting is the largest retrospective exhibition in Europe devoted to Photorealism and will make it's sole UK visit to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from 30 November 2013 to 30 March 2014.

In late 1960s America, a new movement of artists began painting realistic depictions of everyday objects and scenes – gleaming automobiles, iconic highways, storefronts and diners – which at first glance appeared to be photographs. These artists were initially met with intense criticism but the photorealism movement has changed the way we see art forever.

The exhibition is a coup both for Birmingham and the UK but it also brings together a significant number of paintings from private collections so it's a real opportunity to explore the artists and their work.

America's Favourite (1989) by Ralph Goings

In a world where the photograph can capture anything better than the human hand, why is photorealism such an important movement? The development of photography altered the art world forever. It grew into such a wide spread phenomenon that it endangered the value of imagery in art. Realism helped to reclaim the use of imagery, stood up to the abstract expressionists and brought back dignity to truthful representation in painting.

The exhibition offers an interesting debate on the photograph and artwork complimenting the new Library of Birmingham which is home to part of the UK's national collection of photography with over 2 million photographic items. 

My own experiments with photography on flickr have developed over time and I find that the abstract and sometimes interesting provides a great focus for a picture and yet pictures can be manipulated themselves to edge towards the photorealism of the exhibition.

This picture below I recently took is unprocessed yet the capture of the light and the focus of the picture could well lend itself to being seen as a picture or a manipulated photo.   

This exhibition therefore allows both an appreciation of the artists of the Photorealism genre but a look at the ability to capture in photographs the world around us and the idea of turning the photograph into a picture and what that means to perception and how we see the world.

Among the artists displayed is Birmingham born John Salt.  Another artist who is displayed is Chuck Close who uses a grid system to reproduce photographs and while up close you can see the lines when you step back it looks like a photograph.

Reproduced from:

More information on the exhibition can be found on the BMAG website:

Adults: £6.50
Child (5-15 years): £3
Concessions (Students, Seniors): £5.50
Family Ticket (4): £16.00
Unwaged (from Gas Hall only - proof of eligibility must be shown): £2.00
Disabled: £6.50 (from Gas Hall only)
Accompanying Carer: FREE (from Gas Hall only)

Free with National Art Pass 

Mon - Thu and Sat : 10am - 5pm
Fri : 10.30am - 5pm
Sun : 12.30pm - 5pm
Closed 25-26 December, 1 January


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