Published: April 29, 2014
PORTLAND, MAINE — “Richard Estes’ Realism,” a comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s paintings, will be on view at the Portland Museum of Art May 22–September 7, and at the Smithsonian American Art Museum October 10–February 8.
A master of contemporary realism, Estes is primarily known as a painter of the urban landscape. The exhibition features nearly 50 paintings from Estes’ first mature New York City facades from the late 1960s to panoramic views of Manhattan and other cities and natural sites around the world.
Jointly organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Portland Museum of Art, the artworks in this exhibition are selected by Patterson Sims, an independent curator, and Jessica May, curator of contemporary and modern art at the Portland Museum of Art. Virginia Mecklenburg, chief curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is coordinating the exhibition in Washington, D.C.
The exhibition explores the full range of Estes’ career as a painter. Widely acknowledged as a pioneering practitioner of Photorealism, Estes’ sharply focused technique goes beyond the photographic to create complex constructions of light, reflection and perspective. Paintings in the exhibition balance Estes’ interest in cities with his explorations of the Maine coast and the woods on Mount Desert Island, where he has spent part of each year since the late 1970s. Most recently, Estes turned from luminous sunlit scenes to nocturnal images of New York City. Several of his rare portraits also are included in the exhibition.
Estes’ compositions — amalgamations of the multiple photographs he takes for each composition — are dramatic and complex to the point of ambiguity. He layers and merges multiple viewpoints to create dense and detailed scenes. Though figures are often present in his work, they are — like most passersby in public spaces — anonymous and uncommunicative. His technical finesse captures the intricate geometries of the city, the subtle contours and nuanced tones of natural landscapes and the shimmering fluidity of water. Estes’ realism is a compelling record of the appearance of urban and natural environments in the late Twentieth and early Twenty-First Century.
The Portland Museum of Art is at 7 Congress Square. For information, 207-775-6148 or www.portlandmuseum.org.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm