Hyperrealism is an increasingly popular artistic movement that is an extension of photorealism. Typically within the realms of drawing, painting, and sculpture, hyperrealism is artwork that resembles a high-resolution photograph. The work is therefore quite stunning in its accuracy and can even border on creepy in its ability to blur the visual line between the living and the inanimate. Check out our 10 favorite works of hyperrealism.
An Australian man born to German parents, Ron Mueck got his start in hyperrealist sculpture making puppets for the children’s television show, Shirl’s Neighbourhood, which he also directed. From here, he worked on the film, Labyrinth starring David Bowie. He was a puppeteer, model maker, and the voice of Ludo. Mueck moved to London where he started his on company making hyper-realistic props for advertising companies. His personal passion was making sculptures that looked realistic from every angle. This desire eventually caused him to transition into fine arts. His work focuses on creating startlingly real sculptures of the human body. He has had many high profile exhibitions and achieved worldwide fame.
Dirk Dzimirsky is a world-renowned German artist famous for his hyper-real drawings and oil paintings of human beings. The tone of his work is somewhat dark because it is meant to capture the raw mortality of the human experience. He bases his sketches off of photographs, and some take up to a year to complete. White charcoal and an eraser play important roles in his pencil drawings because they help him to control the depiction of light within the image. His work is remarkable because he is able to convey intense emotion within the images. Dzimirsky intends for each of his works to tell a story.
Michael Zajkov is a Moscow-based artist that creates extremely realistic hand painted dolls out of polymer clay. They are so hyper-real that he admits they can come off as a bit creepy. Remarkably, Zajkov only began making these dolls in 2010. He first worked at a puppet theatre. The dolls’ realism largely comes from the materials he uses to create them. For instance, their hair is made of French mohair and their eyes from special German glass. The dolls’ anatomy is equally as intricate. Each one has 13 joints. He even makes their clothing himself. You can stay up to date on Zajkov’s work by following his Instagram account where he posts photos and even short videos of the process.
Keng Lye is an artist based in Singapore known for making 3-dimensional paintings of aquatic animals. His materials include acrylic paint and resin. The animals are painted in bowls that cause them to appear submerged under water. To create the image, he fills the bowls layer by layer alternating between the resin and the paint to create a 3D image. The success of his work in appearing so real work largely relies on Lye’s acute sense of visual perspective. Some of his subjects include fish, turtles and even a partially submerged octopus whose head rises up from the water’s surface.
Gregory Thielker’s work aims to scrutinize the effect memory and subjectivity has on our visual perceptions. He uses graphite and oil paint to create hyper-real scenes. His work has been shown in galleries all around the world. One of his most famous projects is titled Under the Unminding Sky. These works largely feature roads as Thielker ponders the role they play in forming our perceptions of landscapes. What makes the images especially dynamic and hyper-realistic is that he often superimposes droplets of water over the images so it looks as if you’re looking out at the scene through a window. This technique only adds to the experience of questioning the lenses through which we visualize our surroundings.
Franco Clun is an Italian artist who creates astoundingly realistic pencil drawings. Amazingly, Clun has no formal artistic training. Instead, he is entirely self-taught and explains that everything he knows he learned simply through reading drawing manuals and relentless practice. The drawings truly look like high-resolution black and white photographs, and he does an excellent job of conveying emotion in the expressions of those he draws. Many of his drawings feature famous pop culture icons, and he takes commissions. Franco Clun is an inspiration and a living example that passion and dedication can lead to great things.
John Baeder’s art is classified as Post War American realism, and he is closely linked to the photorealist movement. For this reason, he acts as a forefather to many of the artists featured on this list. His primary mediums were oil paint and watercolor. Most of his paintings depict American diners and their patrons. High profile companies like Disney and Coca Cola have used and popularized his work. Baeder aptly captures the culture of 20th century American diners and its iconic aesthetic in a series of books that feature his art. Something that historians say make his artwork unique is that it is clear Baeder paints his subjects with a sense of fondness for them.
John de Andrea is an American sculptor known for his realistic portrayals of people, both nude and clothed, fixed in equally realistic poses. His work is largely derived from polychrome bronze and polyvinyl casts of human subjects. These subjects were often his friends and his work depicts young women and interactions between lovers. He aims to portray the idiosyncratic nature of the individual with complete authenticity. John De Andrea’s work is compared to Greek sculpture. De Andrea’s work has been held on exhibition around the world including at the Venice Biennale.
Tjalf Sparnaay is a Dutch artist and illustrator. He is a self-taught painter and photographer. He largely creates still-lifes everyday objects using oil paint. Part of his trademark style is to blow up the paintings to dimensions that are much larger than the object itself. One of his most famous pieces is of a giant hamburger. Although the subject matter mainly portrays contemporary objects that are part of popular culture, his style is derived from traditional 17thcentury Dutch still life. His paintings are highly sought after, and some have been sold for more than $55,000. You can only find his work on display in New York, London, and the Netherlands.
Robin Eley is an acclaimed Australian hyperrealist painter. In recent years, Eley has had three solo exhibitions in Los Angeles and Australia. Much of his work also exists in private collections around the world. He was a runner up in the 2011 Doug Moran Natural Portrait Prize, the most prestigious honor of its kind for portrait artists, among several other recognitions. Some of his trademark portraits are nudes of individuals wrapped in cellophane. His work also features interplay between nude subjects and geometric design. Upon further inspection, it also becomes clear that the portraits contain references to mythology and other cultural motifs.