10 Painters Whose Work Looks Like Photographs


The French word hyperréalisme was coined by Belgian art dealer Isy Brachot for an exhibition of work by an international group of Photorealists in Brussels in 1973, and… Hello? Are you still there? Want to see something cool? Here are 10 painters whose works’ immaculate brushstrokes sum up to a spitting image of a high definition photographic image, only instead of a click of a shutter, they were created through tedious careful labor. Proceed to slideshow. Gawk. Be amazed.

Marylin Minter conjures lush, sensual images, feminine flesh dripping with glitter or mercury or foam or tiny beads or splatters of dirt or… whatever it is this time. She does this by layering enamel paint on aluminum. In the end, she uses her fingertips to soften the brushstrokes. And you thought these were photographs.

Dan Witz’s hyperrealist painting of mobs — moshing kids, swaying concert crowds, rats, what have you — look so incredibly life-like, you’re almost tempted to tag your friends.

Pop culture peddler extraordinaire, Richard Phillips casts Lindsay Lohan and other wild starlets in his newest series of gigantic canvases. In real life, those cute painted freckles are enormous.

Alyssa Monks’ most recognizable figurative series consists of portraits “shot” through fogged up, water-soaked sheets of glass. Sometimes nude, sometimes just grinning, her bathing beauties are painted in oils on linen. Monks uses photographs as references and imagination and memory as inspiration.

J ason de Graaf’s paintings of ordinary things are mesmerizing in the amount of precise, immaculate detail of shape, line, composition and form. Never thought you’d be staring at shiny marbles as long as you are right now, did you?

At first glance, Gottfried Helnwein’s paintings are indistinguishable from photographs. The hyperrealist painter often juxtaposes the innocent child muse with route disturbing imagery — blood, guns, cartoonish monsters — or haunting, metaphorical malice of some other sort. It’s all pretty kitsch, but there’s definitely a sense of relief knowing these are “only paintings.”

Denis Peterson’s lovingly painted, airbrushed, smudged, and touched-up works in acrylic gouache on museum board are just your regular New York street scenes… unless they’re exhibited outside of New York, when they seem to gain an iconic, mythical quality. Sing it with me now, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere…”

Unlike portraits by Chuck Close that only look “real” from afar, the likenesses disintegrating into blocky cells as you approach the paintings, Close’s hyperrealist series are free from abstractions. They look exactly like photographs, down to the slight blur around the contours perfectly imitating soft focus.

Simon Hennessey’s close-ups of the human face allow you to see every strand of blonde, every lipstick smear, every murky glint of the eyeball, every impending wrinkle… if you’re into that sort of thing.

Jeremy Geddes’ hyperrealist style and surrealist subjects combine for one gorgeous headtrip after another. His paintings look very “real” — as real as lonely astronauts, floating tangles of bodies and bursting buildings can look.