1980s Realist Landscape Paintings
A Close Look at realist Art
Realist art attempts to portray its subject matter without artifice. Similar to naturalism, authentic realist paintings and prints see an integration of true-to-life colors, meticulous detail and linear perspectives for accurate portrayals of the world.
Work that involves illusionistic techniques of realism dates back to the classical world, such as the deceptive trompe l’oeil used since ancient Greece. Art like this became especially popular in the 17th century when Dutch artists like Evert Collier painted objects that appeared real enough to touch. Realism as an artistic movement, however, usually refers to 19th-century French realist artists such as Honoré Daumier exploring social and political issues in biting lithographic prints, while the likes of Gustave Courbet and Jean-François Millet painting people — particularly the working class — with all their imperfections, navigating everyday urban life. This was a response to the dominant academic art tradition that favored grand paintings of myth and history.
By the turn of the 20th century, European artists, such as the Pre-Raphaelites, were experimenting with nearly photographic realism in their work, as seen in the attention to every botanical attribute of the flowers surrounding the drowned Ophelia painted by English artist John Everett Millais.
Although abstraction was the guiding style of 20th-century art, the realism trend in American modern art endured in Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth and other artists’ depictions of the complexities of the human experience. In the late 1960s, Photorealism emerged with artists like Chuck Close and Richard Estes giving their paintings the precision of a frame of film.
Contemporary artists such as Jordan Casteel, LaToya Ruby Frazier and Aliza Nisenbaum are now using the unvarnished realist approach for honest representations of people and their worlds. Alongside traditional mediums, technology such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and immersive installations are helping artists create new sensations of realism in art.
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Finding the Right landscape-paintings for You
It could be argued that cave walls were the canvases for the world’s first landscape paintings, which depict and elevate natural scenery through art, but there is a richer history to consider.
The Netherlands was home to landscapes as a major theme in painting as early as the 1500s, and ink-on-silk paintings in China featured mountains and large bodies of water as far back as the third century. Greeks created vast wall paintings that depicted landscapes and grandiose garden scenes, while in the late 15th century and early 16th century, landscapes were increasingly the subject of watercolor works by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Fra Bartolomeo.
The popularity of religious paintings eventually declined altogether, and by the early 19th century, painters of classical landscapes took to painting out-of-doors (plein-air painting). Paintings of natural scenery were increasingly realistic but romanticized too. Into the 20th century, landscapes remained a major theme for many artists, and while the term “landscape painting” may call to mind images of lush, grassy fields and open seascapes, the genre is characterized by more variety, colors and diverse styles than you may think. Painters working in the photorealist style of landscape painting, for example, seek to create works so lifelike that you may confuse their paint for camera pixels. But if you’re shopping for art to outfit an important room, the work needs to be something with a bit of gravitas (and the right frame is important, too).
Adding a landscape painting to your home can introduce peace and serenity within the confines of your own space. (Some may think of it as an aspirational window of sorts rather than a canvas.) Abstract landscape paintings by the likes of Korean painter Seungyoon Choi or Georgia-based artist Katherine Sandoz, on the other hand, bring pops of color and movement into a room. These landscapes refuse to serve as a background. Elsewhere, Adam Straus’s technology-inspired paintings highlight how our extreme involvement with our devices has removed us from the glory of the world around us. Influenced by modern life and steeped in social commentary, Straus’s landscape paintings make us see our surroundings anew.