Exhibition: ‘Picturing America: Photorealism in the 1970s’ at Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin

Exhibition dates: 7th March – 10th May 2009


Many thankx to the Deutsche Guggenheim for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on the art work for a larger version of the image.


“My paintings are about light, about the way things look in their environment and especially about how things look painted. Form, colour and space are at the whim of reality, their discovery and organisation is the assignment of the realist painter.”

~ Ralph Goings



Richard Estes. 'Telephone Booths' 1967


Richard Estes (American, b. 1932)
Telephone Booths


Richard Estes. 'Supreme Hardware' 1974


Richard Estes (American, b. 1932)
Supreme Hardware


Audrey Flack. 'Queen' 1976


Audrey Flack (American, b. 1931)


Chuck Close. 'Leslie' 1973


Chuck Close (American, 1940-2021)


Ralph Goings. 'Airstream' 1970


Ralph Goings (American, 1928-2016)


Ralph Goings (American, 1928-2016) 'Dicks Union General' 1971


Ralph Goings (American, 1928-2016)
Dicks Union General
Oil on canvas



By the end of the 1960s, a number of young artists working in the United States had begun making large-scale realist paintings directly from photographs. With often meticulous detail, they portrayed the objects, places, and people that defined urban and suburban everyday life in America. In contrast to the Pop artists, they did not present their ubiquitous, often mundane, subject matter in a glamorised or ironic manner. They sought instead to achieve a great degree of objectivity and precision in the execution of their work in an effort to stay more or less faithful to the mechanically generated images that served as their source material. They developed various means of systematically translating photographic information onto canvas. In prioritising the way the camera sees over the way the eye sees, they underscored the complexity of the relationship between the reproduction and the reproduced as well as the impact of photography on the perception of both daily life and reality in general.

A number of terms were proposed in quick succession to describe this novel approach to painting, chief among them Super-Realism, Hyperrealism, and Photorealism. The artists identified as Photorealists neither formed a coherent group nor considered themselves to be part of a movement, and a number of them actively challenged their association with the label. Nevertheless, in the late 1960s and 1970s, the seventeen artists in Picturing America: Photorealism in the 1970s – Robert Bechtle, Charles Bell, Tom Blackwell, Chuck Close, Robert Cottingham, Don Eddy, Richard Estes, Audrey Flack, Franz Gertsch, Ralph Goings, Ron Kleemann, Richard McLean, Malcolm Morley, Stephen Posen, John Salt, Ben Schonzeit, and Paul Staiger – were exploring a related set of issues, methods, and subjects that led critics, curators, and art historians to both exhibit and write about their work as a coherent trend in contemporary art. Picturing America focuses on this formative, defining period in the history of Photorealism.

The exhibition includes thirty-one paintings, a number of them the most iconic and masterful works of 1967-1982, for example Richard Estes’s Telephone Booths (1967, above) and Chuck Close’s Leslie (1973, above). Picturing America is divided into four sections, three exploring key themes of Photorealist painting during the 1970s – Reflections on the City, Culture of Consumption, and American Life – and a fourth dedicated to a portfolio of ten lithographs made on the occasion of Documenta 5 in 1972, which featured the first major group showing of Photorealism.

Text from the Deutsche Guggenheim website


Robert Bechtle. 'Foster's Freeze, Escalon' 1975


Robert Bechtle (American, 1932-2020)
Foster’s Freeze, Escalon


Robert Bechtle. 'Alameda Gran Torino' 1974


Robert Bechtle (American, 1932-2020)
Alameda Gran Torino



Deutsche Guggenheim

This museum closed in 2013.


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2 Responses to “Exhibition: ‘Picturing America: Photorealism in the 1970s’ at Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin”

  1. 1 Deb T
    October 23, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    I was looking for images by Ralph Goings and came across this website. What a delight. Thanks.

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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