Photorealism vs. nature

Home / Education / ARChives / Foundational Discussions

Photorealism vs. nature

From ARC Staff

Published before 2005


Piet Spijkers wrote:
Tim, what do you think about the following:

"When discussing realism in connection with seventeenth-century Dutch landscapists, it is important to bear in mind that these artists hardly ever painted their pictures out of doors. The practice of making paintings in the open air became common only during the nineteenth century."
- Seymour Slive, Dutch painting 1600-1800, page 181, Yale University Press/Pelican History of Art, New Haven, 1995

I agree. I also consider these early Dutch landscapes interesting but their charm does not lie with a sense of being in nature anymore than the early Twatchmans or da Vinci's backgrounds - all of these examples bespeak of a mystery - an artful magical place that does not quite look real. That's great - it just doesn't ring of sunshine or reality as does the Russian or American or French guys working outside. Even consider Zorn - he did great works outside... then some king would come along and want to be painted "outside" and Zorn would take his picture and then try to make the thing LOOK as if it were actually painted outside - these are his stinkers.