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Hyperrealism is a genre of the visual arts, generally painting and sculpture, in which the resulting work is supposed to resemble a high-resolution photograph or living object. The genre, which began in the 1970s, has become a growing movement in the United States and European art worlds during the 21st century. The emphasis in hyperrealism is on exact detail.


In 1973, Belgian art dealer Isy Brachot coined the term “hyperrealism” for a gallery exhibition of American and European photorealist artists. Photorealism is the attempt to reproduce a photograph through painting to the point where the two are indistinguishable. American painter Denis Peterson was one of the first artists to move beyond photorealism and declare his work to be hyperrealism. Other notable artists in the genre include Richard Estes, Chuck Close, and Audrey Flack.

Sculptor Duane Hanson is also famous for his hyperrealism. Working with polyester resins, fiberglass and real-life objects, Hanson produces sculptures of people that look amazingly life-like. His work is featured in the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

Hyperrealism, while focused on detail, often include subtle pictorial elements that either create the illusion of reality or some version of reality that does not, in fact, exist. Much of the technical aspects of hyperrealism utilize modern computer digital imagery in order to create the exacting detail required by the genre.

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