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    I'd argue this doesn't account for fantasy art.

    If you were asking is skill in reality art itself redundant, I would say on the outside it may be seeming that way. (Sadly, as I like to work on realism myself).

    But to create a realist fantasy image, this could be a normal figure out of context, in humour, or even fantasy as the word itself; dragons and faeries, the skill must still be required.

    The art of making fantasy figures real requires great skill.

    Though of course, you have photo manipulation and all sorts now-a-days...

    Audrey Flack <3 Arguably photorealism has the artistic worth of a comemerative plate, but I like it. I'm kinda facinated/awestruck by it to be honnest. Part of me thinks while beatiful, it's at best a shallow beauty, but on the other hand, if you say that the value of work by artists like Emin lies in its honnesty or truthfulness, on some level maybe you could say the same about photorealists, whos aim is to acheive an absolutly faithful interpretation of the source material. Conversely, on the other end of the spectrum, look at concept art. Is for example writing a word on a page really artisticly valuable? It's all just a question of balance.

    Thank you for your interesting post. Please don't take my reply as anything more than my interpretation. I have read quite a lot of books on art - and philosophy is helpful too - but don't have any more than a GCSE in Art itself. I know I am going off topic in trying to answer the question.

    Paintings throughout the centuries could be said to be of a photorealistic nature due to the patient skill of the artist. Traditionally, these would be posed portraits, landscapes or still lifes.

    In the second half of the 19th century, impressionism captured the private lives of subjects that would not traditionally have been regarded as a fitting, or simply a considered, subject matter for art. Although this was partly a matter of social class, it was also a matter of the uncomfortable collision between classicised sexuality and realistic sexuality (e.g. Manet's Olympia). It is easy to imagine that the invention of the camera made what is instantly there more fashionable than what was imagined (the classical).

    Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, labelled 'pointilism' because of the small dots of paint used to create an impression, also blends the boundaries between social classes, between leisure and work, formality and play. But it isn't sensationalist in a deliberately provocative way- the composition itself is quite rigidly structured. This is something that photography doesn't always have the luxury or desire to have but Seurat's paintings could be seen as a kind of precursor of the later photorealism.

    But the photorealism of the 1960s was an offshoot of something else - Pop Art. Pop Art such as Andy Warhol's covered reproduction of photo-like images, of both the 'extraordinary' i.e. celebrities and what many would have seen as the mundane e.g a Campbells soup tin. The reproduction was not necessarily perfect, or even intended to be as close to perfection as possible. (nb. It could be argued that, with Dada, Marcel Duchamp invented the art form that later turned in to Pop Art (at least the first who became famous for doing something similar). However, he came to Dada via surrealism).

    Photorealism symbolised a movement that I think could be said to be mirrored in the architecture of the late 1960s through to mid 1970s as well. It followed a strict rule of functional order, arguably removed of the fun element of its originator, Pop Art. But this order couldn't be called classical either. Classical architecture may have liked order and not too fussy a decoration but it certainly never wanted to dispense fully with decoration. There is no relatively little decoration in the technique of photorealism even if there happens to be in the subject matter itself.

    Photorealism could be described as a desire to 'keep it real'. It happened to come after the end of the summer of love (1967), the quite surreal Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band album (Magical Mystery Tour the following year was actually more surreal) and 1967 was also the year of Rene Magritte's death. 'Old school' surrealism was over, perhaps regarded as far removed from modern society.

    In the 1980s, airbrushing seemed particularly fashionable, not just in graffiti art but in general advertising. It seemed to bridge a Pop Art comic book type nature with a photorealistic kind of feel. That was very 1980s - mixing fantasy with hard nosed practicalism.

    Come the 1990s, that probably seemed cliched to the art world. Pop Art or Dadaism of various kinds became especially fashionable again e.g. Damien Hirst.

    Now it seems that those who care most about looking photorealistic are creators of Xbox360 and PS3 videogames. But some more stylised games (that may be partially realistic looking) are arguably more timeless looking.

    Artists who have mimicked photographs show that great skill, time and patience can create what a photograph can. In that sense it shows that the human mind can be trained like a machine. But it also shows the opposite- the implication is that a camera would not itself have been able to come up with the concept that the artist may have or to choose which subtle quirks to incorporate in to the image. As technology has become more and more advanced, photorealism in art may be regarded by many as less innovative than its roots may suggest.
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