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Women of Hyperrealism - A very brief history

Updated: Nov 7, 2020

I am generally very impressed by artists who are patient enough to paint massive paintings using minuscule paintbrushes. Or even more impressed when the brush and details are so extremely small, the artist uses a magnifying glass to paint. One such artist is David Eichenberg, who, ironically, is painting a woman in this image.

David Eichenberg at work with magnifying glass
David Eichenberg at work with magnifying glass

There are many notable names in the hyperrealism movement and when you go down the Wikipedia page list of 92 names, can you guess how many of those are women? 6 as in six. And I noticed that they included a few contemporary male artists such as David Kassan, but not his equally talented and amazing wife, Shana Levenson. Her piece, "Lioness" is a powerful portrait and the model's look is fierce and powerful. A lot of her artwork also depicts lace and jewelry with such intricate details, it is absolutely mind-blowing.

Lioness Shana Levenson Mall Galleries
"Lioness" by Shana Levenson (2020)
Nose to the Grindstone National Lampoon November 1975
"Nose to the Grindstone" - National Lampoon Nov75

When looking at the history of Hyperrealism, it developed in the early 1970s and one of the forerunner? Yes, you guessed it, a woman named Carole Feuerman whose sculptures look absolutely lifelike thanks to her technique of casting a real human model.

The Midpoint sculpture by Carole Feuerman Venice Biennale
"The Midpoint" by Carole Feuerman (2017)

"Nose to the Grindstone" was one of her first sculptures where she cast an actual person and you can appreciate how dedication and hard work pay off when you see one of her more recent sculptures The Midpoint, which was on show at the Venice Biennale in 2017. The improvement and advances in material sciences also help as she was able to get better quality materials during the span of over four decades of her career. The other forerunners of the movement were also sculptors Duane Hanson and John De Andrea - who are also amazing artists, but today's entry is about women.

I remembered I have a copy of the Juxtapoz - Hyperreal edition because a friend of mine is featured, but today I decided to actually count how many women are featured and out of 30 artists, 6 are women. Still a higher percentage than 6/92, but still, these women should certainly be added to that Wikipedia list!

1. Alyssa Monks - although she was labelled a hyperreal painter, she personally does not consider herself one as she likes to paint thick juicy layers of paint and as her website states "Alyssa Monks layers spaces and moments in her paintings"

2. Jen Mann - a conceptual artist who works in many mediums such as paint, sculpture, film and sound.

3. Jenny Morgan - doesn't like to place herself in a category as she plays with elements of photorealism in her artwork, but also Surrealism and Magical Realism.

4. Jessica Hess - her paintings are very tight and detailed and look like photographs. She paints urban landscapes that are covered in graffiti and every element in her landscape paintings is controlled and measured perfectly.

5. Linnea Strid - if you have seen any of her paintings, you know there is one element she has perfect control over, and that is water. Her models are either in the bath, or shower, or have found one way or another of getting themselves wet. Her hyperreal paintings look like photographs and are incredibly life like.

6. Zaria Forman - the first words to pop into my mind when thinking about Zaria's gigantic pastel paintings are blue, ice and cold. That's because she visits the ends of the earth to document climate change in her paintings. They're incredibly vivid and have such a clean purity to them, it's hard to describe. They are like fresh snow and ice untouched by waste and filth.

There are other women whose work is incredible such as Kathrin Longhurst, Aleah Chapin, Mary Jane Ansell, Chiamonwu Joy, Jade Yasmeen, Kit King, Clare Toms, Erin Nicholls, Victoria Novak, Tsering Hannaford, Anne-Marie Zanetti, Roos van der Vliet, Agnieszka Nienartowicz, the list goes on an on and there is an incredible number of amazing female artists who are pure hyperreal, or combine hyperrealism with other elements, but whose work still predominantly stands out like a photo and makes you look twice because they have added something playful, or creepy, or there's just something off with the image. I am sure that you know an artist whose paintings make you think it's a photo, but it's countless hours with a tiny brush getting all those pores accounted for.

Women are also depicted in a very real way in the hyperreal movement, but that is as a subject matter. As I discussed recently about the objectification of women in art, and the representation of women in art - although not that much, so I will start discussing that in the articles to come, less than 4% of artists in the Modern Art section of the Metropolitan Museum are women, but 76% of the art depicts nude women.


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