I sighed, the corner of my notebook filling up with names. There would be hours on the internet looking these folks up. But the works are just amazing: the subjects, the detail, the patience.
Although I went to Rotterdam’s Kunsthal for the Munch exhibit (about which, more later), I really was fascinated by the International Realism collection, on exhibit through mid January. The works are grouped into eight theme areas, including interiors and nudes, each filled with a diverse collection of artists and media.
Realism generally refers to creating works based accurately on real life people and settings. Think of the Dutch painters of the 17th century, including Vermeer, Steen, and Cuyp, who rendered interiors, landscapes, and everyday scenes with small details and realistic light effects.
This isn’t really what is being shown at the Kunsthal, though.
The exhibit is filled with hyperrealistic works: paintings and sculptures that are photographic in their detail, but often distorted in size or perspective. I find them both amusing and disturbing: the precision of the works are amazing but the dissonance with life gives me something to think about.
John deAndrea creates sculptures of nudes: a blond woman lies casually on a sheet in the first exhibit room. She is absolutely lifelike: it takes some study to convince yourself that she’s not a model. Indeed, children bend down and stare into her eyes trying to make up their mind.
An adjacent room holds a paired painting and sculpture of the event and aftermath of 9/11. The picture is poignant, remembering how the day unfolded and how it intersected with everyday life at the time, but the sculpture just makes me sad. I don’t think we really understood how subsequent events would damage our moral standing in the world (especially juxtaposed with Bush’s recent defense of the actions).
The landscapes (examples below: Radziwill, left, and Schwerig, right) are more fanciful, but full of detail.
Interiors and street scenes include a Hopper, of course, but also a variety of works by others (Orosz, left, and Goings, right) that are almost trompe l’oeil in the way that they play with space and perspective. And one movie plays with time: a still-life bowl of fruit decays beneath a fluffy coat of mould in gruesome evolution.
It’s all remarkable and fun and well worth a couple of hours to explore. My only complaint was the complete ban on taking photographs: The associated catalog is reasonably priced, and a lot of the works are reproduced on-line (if you take time to write all of the names).