How the Art of Hyperrealism Evolved From Realistic Drawings to Fake Realities


As with any artistic movement, the evolution of Hyperrealism can only be told in relation to the other influential art styles that preceded it. Hyperrealism has its roots in Photorealismand Realism before that, sharing many of the same artistic traits, but his own distinct individual style.

The rise of hyperrealism correlates with the development of photography. While some realists of the late 1800s felt threatened by the new medium, American Photorealists of the 1960s and 1970s sought to immortalize photographic imagery by faithfully capturing their precision and detail in realistic paintings and drawings. In the early 2000s, hyperrealists used advances in high-definition photography as a jumping-off point to expressions of false realities that continue to amaze and amaze art lovers everywhere.

So when did the origins of hyperrealism begin?



“The Gleaners” by Jean-François Millet. (Picture via Wikimedia Commons)

the Realism art movement began in post-revolutionary France in the 1850s. Painters of the time rejected the dominant style of Romanticism in favor of scenes depicting the everyday reality. These paintings, which may seem unremarkable today, were revolutionary at the time, as mainstream artwork depicted ancient mythology, religious imagery and commissioned portraits of aristocrats, which were most often painted with way to encourage their selfishness. illusions, rather than their true likeness.

Realist pioneers such as Gustave Courbet, Jean-François Millet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot painted ordinary environments, with ordinary people engaged in ordinary activities. One of the most famous realist paintings –The gleaners (Gleaners) by Jean-François Millet – depicts three peasant women picking up leftover grain from a wheat field after harvest. Painted on a large scale, often reserved for religious paintings, he portrayed the working masses in a sympathetic light. In the shadow cast by the French Revolution, this made the upper class vulnerable and as a result the painting was not well received at the time.

Equivalent movements began to evolve in other Western countries, where artists such as Hubert von Herkomer and Luke Fildes in Britain made paintings to highlight difficult social issues and unpleasant times, often painted with dark and earthy palettes.


“The Widower” by Luke Fildes. (Picture via Wikimedia Commons)

In 1839, the invention of the Daguerreotype photographic process in Paris reported the birth of photography, and technology began to influence artistic realism. Some painters felt driven to compete with the new medium, while others embraced its influence.



“John’s Diner with John’s Chevelle” by John Baeder. (Picture via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0))

Photorealism is a genre of art where artists try to reproduce a photograph as realistic as possible. As a reaction to Abstract Expressionism, the term is primarily applied to the work of American artists in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Photorealism, as well as Pop Art, were reactionary movements resulting from the overwhelming abundance of photographic media. By the mid-20th century, photographic images were so pervasive in society that the medium threatened to reduce the power of imagery in mainstream art. However, while pop artists primarily emphasized the absurdity of commercial imagery, photorealists tried to reclaim and celebrate the value of an image.

The first generation of Photorealists included American painters such as John Baeder, Ralph Goings and Chuck Close. Like the Realists, their subjects were often familiar landscape scenes, portraits and still lifes, but with a modern touch, often set in urban rather than rural scenes. Audrey Flack, the only photorealist woman at the time, depicted the transience of life through her depictions of inanimate household objects like lipstick tubes and perfume bottles. The impressive paintings of these artists incorporate photographic elements such as depth of field, flash reflections, with some pieces even slightly out of focus.

Despite the obvious skill it takes to imitate a photograph, realist artists of the time were sharply criticized by art historians who considered their reliance on photographs a “cheat”.


“Sacramento Airport” by Ralph Goings. Picture: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)




Sergei Piskunov

Hyperrealism is a relatively new art movement that began in the early 1970s. It received its name in 1973, when the Belgian art dealer Isy Brachot made Hyperrealism. It was the title of one of his major exhibitions at his gallery in Brussels, which featured works by American Photorealists, such as Ralph Goings and Chuck Close. Building on the work of Photorealists, the art movement of Hyperrealism rapidly evolved in the early 2000s alongside Technology. These artists were able – and continue – to achieve the illusion of sharp, high definition photographs through advances in computing, digital imaging and software.

Unlike photorealist painters who take a literal approach to imitate their photographic sources in great detail, hyperrealists use photographs only as a reference. They aim to create a new, simulated reality, rendered with details that do not exist in the original image. Textures, surfaces, lighting effects, and shadows are painted, resulting in art that looks three-dimensional and tangible.

With a wide range of themes, some hyperrealist artists evoke emotional, social, cultural, and political meanings in their art. For example, the Australian sculptor Ron Mueck creates hyper-realistic, larger-than-life sculptures of human beings. Often naked or in a state of unconsciousness, his figures exhibit both emotional and physical states of exposition and evoke a sense of unease in the viewer.

Ron Mueck

Other artists who have stood out include Tjalf Sparnaay, whose tantalizing food paintings have been exhibited around the world. And the Ukrainian artist Sergei Piskunov is a master of texture, creating hyperrealistic paintings of women swimming in sunlit pools. In another room, a large-scale portrait of a woman details every crack in her clay face mask.


Tjalf Sparnaay with his painting “Foodscape”, 2014. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0))


Sergei Piskunov


Sergei Piskunov


Sergei Piskunov

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