Unreal Nature

March 29, 2016

A Necessary Screen

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:54 am

… “The camera has also been … a necessary screen, a sort of reassuring filter …”

This is from Patterson Sims‘ title essay to Richard Estes’ Realism (2014):

… As he has repeatedly asserted, his art is not so much about what he paints as about how he paints. Estes considers that by using his photographs he neutralizes and sublimates his own point of view and allows his images to become more open-ended for the viewer. For him, “The subject is just the vehicle for doing the painting.”

Estes_TimesSquare
Times Square, 2004

… As he memorably remarked in 1972, not long after the start of his now nearly half century of strictly photo-based realism, “I don’t enjoy looking at the things I paint, so why should you enjoy it? I enjoy painting because of all the things I can do with it. I’m not trying to make propaganda for New York, or anything. I think I would tear down most of the places I paint.”

Estes_ComumbusCircle
Columbus Circle at Night, 2010

… “The camera has also been, for Estes,” as Sandro Parmiggiani has so cogently recognized, “a necessary screen, a sort of reassuring filter between his desire of knowing the world, the real, and his shyness, his still persisting restrained attitude … even the choice of reflections, and not a direct look, seems to be evidence of this.” As Estes more broadly remarked near the onset of his venture into photo-based realism, “Making a picture out of something is a way of putting oneself in control of it, like the cave-men and their pictures of wild animals. Did the capture of the animal’s form make his threat less acute? Maybe making a picture of your environment is a way of coping with it.”

-Julie

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