I guess you could call me an aspiring art critic, an admirer of Clive Bell and Frida Kahlo reincarnated with a dash of Rococo.

  • Alexia Morris

What would Vasari's reaction be to hyperrealism?

Hyperrealism started in the 1970s along with artists such as Chuck Close and Richard Estes. The style uses a specific technique which is intended to convey painting and sculpture with advanced photographic-realism. The Tate website describes it as a 'resurgence of particularly high fidelity realism'. Nowadays it has leapt with artists such as Ron Mueck showing how your eye can be tricked with this refined style. It's all about refinement...

Vasari, for those of you who haven't heard of him, is an art historian from the 16th century who documented the biographies and works of artists from the 12th century up to his contemporaries in this book called,' The Lives of Artists'. In his book, Vasari suggests that to be a 'great' artist one must be successful in imitating nature. He starts by laying out this newly found talent amongst the arts with an artist called Cimabue. Cimabue and Giotto are the first artists mentioned in Vasari's biographical accounts and if you saw their medieval religious images you would not compare them to Mueck. This idea of imitating nature and going beyond that was withheld the whole way through his accounts which were categorised into 'waves' each getting closer to perfection. What do you think of when you think of perfection? What to you is 'perfect' art? To Vasari, Michelangelo was the pinnacle of perfection. He had reached and exceeded Vasari's idea of perfection. If you have never heard of Michelangelo then I have no idea where you have been... google Sistene Chapel, he painted the ceiling. With that in mind, we can all agree that for an artist in the 1500s, that's bloody impressive. So if Michelangelo had exceeded Vasari's idea of perfection because of his ability to imitate nature then how on earth would have Vasari reacted to Ron Mueck's 'Boy'.

I'll start with my reaction. I have never been more blown away. I just saw the photograph of this colossal sculpture, so imagine how incredibly realistic it must be in person. I am always told off by my lecturers for using the word realistic as they deem it to be too vague, but hyperrealism and superrealism are just taking the word realistic to another level!

The hyperrealists is a new movement because I feel as though nowadays painting and sculpture has to shock its audience, its that whole idea that to become a renowned artist you have to do something new, something never done before. Some of you may have heard of Mike Dargas. I found this artist on Instagram after seeing an image of this woman wearing bright red lipstick with oil dripping down her face. It's a painting. The light perfectly hits her forehead which illuminates this image and shows the stickiness and the wetness of the oil. You can see the creases on her eyelids and the lines by her lips. It is photographic. His art was something which shocked me more than Ron Mueck and Chuck Close. Nowadays, you can use materials in such a different way to how Michelangelo would have done back in the 1500s. It's a new understanding of human form and the environment. What Vasari wouldn't be able to get his head around is the fact that its merely the talent of imitating nature but its a further understanding and level of experimentation which has created this new style. I really would love to see his reaction to one of these images... maybe they would be too much for him, he may hate them?

Please feel free to tell me what you think about hyperrealism. Check out some of the artists I have mentioned and see whether or not you like this style of art.

Goodbye for now!

Michelangelo, David, 1501-04

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My name is Alexia and I am 20 years old. I am currently studying History of art at Oxford Brookes University and found that it has inspired me to really look at art with a different eye. I follow a critic called Jerry Saltz on Instagram and through reading his work and looking at the writings of Vasari and Clive Bell I have realised that I have an extreme love for writing and talking about art. I do paint in my spare time and have always loved it but I have always found it so interesting to learn new things about artists. I remember learning about the life of Toulouse-Lautrec when I wrote about Women at their 'toilette' for my A-level coursework and being completely fascinated by his absinthe addiction and what he got up to. When you find out about the life and personality of an artist it really changes your opinion on their works which is not necessarily a good thing but it is something which is completely relevant. When I learnt about The Bloomsbury group and how they intended to dissociate form, colour and lines with a subject matter I learnt this new way of observing art. I always find that keeping an open mind no matter how hard it may be is the only way to fully and truly appreciate a piece, so that is what I intend to use this blog for.


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