Chrome Dreams and Infinite Reflections: American Photorealism exhibition opens at Reynolda House Museum of American Art

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Chrome Dreams and Infinite Reflections: American Photorealism exhibition opens at Reynolda House Museum of American Art
Robert Bechtle, Agna Caliente Nova, 1975. Oil on canvas, 48 x 69 1/2 inches High Museum of Art, Atlanta. purchase with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts arid the Ray M. and Mary Elizabeth Lee Foundation, 1978.1 © Robert Bechtle and Whitney Chadwick Trust, Courtesy of the Robert Bechtle and Whitney Chadwick Trust and Gladstone Gallery.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC.- Reynolda House Museum of American Art announced the opening of its latest world-class exhibition, Chrome Dreams and Infinite Reflections: American Photorealism. Open to the public on July 15, 2022, the exhibition will run through Dec. 31, 2022. Curated by Reynolda’s Curator, Allison Slaby, Chrome Dreams highlights the nostalgia associated with America’s post-war boom. Reynolda has assembled 41 works of art, 28 of which are from private collectors in the Winston-Salem area, that reflect the glittering cityscapes, shiny storefront windows and sleek automobiles that are indicative of the period and the style of Photorealism.

Beginning in the 1960s, a small group of artists began examining their world through photographs and then creating paintings and prints that mimic those photographs with extraordinary precision. The exhibition features multiple artists considered pioneers of the style, including Robert Cottingham, Robert Bechtle, Richard Estes, Jack Mendenhall, Richard Mclean, Ralph Goings, Ron Kleeman, Audrey Flack, Don Eddy, Janet Fish, Chuck Close and Ben Schonzeit.

The exhibition’s curator, Allison Slaby, said, “I’ve been fascinated by Photorealism for years, even before coming to Reynolda. This exhibition came out of a visit to an art collector’s home here in Winston-Salem. I walked into his house and stopped dead in my tracks at the large-scale Richard Estes screenprint hanging on his wall! When we discovered he also owned several other works by Estes, I knew I had the nucleus of an exhibition right here in town. Then we began seeking out other Photorealist paintings and prints from peer institutions such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the High in Atlanta, and the Birmingham Museum of Art. I think visitors will be astonished by this stunning collection of work.”

Reynolda’s director, Allison Perkins, said, “We’re thrilled, at long last, to be able to finally open this exhibition. Chrome Dreams was delayed by the pandemic for two years, and we’re grateful to our colleagues and our local collectors for their patience and generosity. We’re ready to jump back in time to the cool look and feel of the 1970s!”

Artists have used the camera in the production of paintings since its invention in the mid-19th century, but the Photorealists revolutionized the relationship between photography and painting. Photorealists based their paintings on photographs, sometimes taken by the artist, at other times mined from print sources. Employing virtuosic painting technique and sometimes tools such as projectors and airbrushes, Photorealist artists meticulously recreate the photographs in paint, often on a large scale.

Photorealist paintings, however, are not simple demonstrations of skill or straightforward representations of the physical world. Instead, they often offer wry or pointed commentary on consumer culture, urban architecture and the visual onslaught of modern life. By focusing their attention on commonplace objects such as cheap costume jewelry, store awnings or automobiles, Photorealist artists elevate these items so that the viewer questions their suitability as subjects for fine art. The paintings raise thought-provoking questions about the nature of art itself.

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