What is the Difference Between Photorealist and Hyperrealist Art?

An impressive and highly skilled style of painting and sculpture, nestled beneath the wide umbrella of contemporary art, photorealism and hyperrealism both derived from the late twentieth century when artists started to use very different techniques and styles to achieve lifelike pieces based on photographic imagery.

Many art dealers, artists, and curators muddle the two, because unlike photorealism, hyperrealism has not been given an official definition or recognised as an established movement, which is surprising as the works of both can be vastly different from one another and are valuable in their own right.

We have defined the key differences and distinct qualities of the two movements for clarification.



Photorealism is a replication of a photograph that is so precise and detailed that the naked eye would find it difficult to (and at times, impossible to) spot the difference between an original photograph and a photorealist painting.



Hyperrealism is used in the art world to describe those who were influenced by the photorealists. Hyperrealism was devised by a group of independent artists from Europe and the United States who took the idea of replicating photographs and began creating sculptures or paintings that resembled a photograph from a distance, but when up close, were clearly nothing of the sort.

A comparison

Hyperrealist paintings are filled with far more character, narrative, and emotion that photorealist pieces, depicting their subjects as living creatures and capturing a reality, as opposed to simply mimicking the exact look and feel of a photograph. In contrast to the photorealists, hyperrealists were less copyist than their predecessors. They would take all the precision and technical skill required in order to create an artistic replica of a photograph and then elevate it to captivate emotion, movement, and fluidity within the piece. They could not understand why one would simply want to replicate a photograph – why not better it or change it somehow?

Both movements, although based on the same principle, hold so much value in their own right. If you are interested in exploring works from either movement, we would recommend taking a look at the work of John Baeder, Robert Bechtle, Chuck Close and Don Eddy who were champions of the photorealist movement, and Alyssa Monks, Gina Heyer and Rob Hefferan who were key in defining the hyperrealist offset of the former.

Whether you are looking for something photorealist, hyperrealist, or something completely awry, we have plenty of works of art to choose from, whatever your artistic preference. Contact us to find out more or purchase one of our pieces today.

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