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Entries in Post-Abstract (1)


Contemporary Realism: A Post-Abstract Movement

William Bailey - Strada Bianca - 1990 - Oil on canvas - 31 1/2 x 39 1/2 in. (80 x 100.3 cm) - John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco (click photo for larger image)Contemporary Realism is the straightforward realistic approach to representation which continues to be widely practiced today—in what we call the post-abstract era. It should not be confused with Photorealism (which began in the late 1960s). The true subject of a photorealist work is the way in which we interpret photographs and paintings, in order to create an internal representation of the scene depicted. Because the subject matter in Photorealist works is often banal, without any particular interest, the approach is somewhat ironic and conceptual in nature.

Contemporary Realists are literate in the concepts of Modern Art, but choose to work in a more traditional form. Many Contemporary Realists actually began as abstract painters, having come through an educational system dominated by professors and theorists dismissive of representational painting.

One of the best known Contemporary Realists is William Bailey, who himself was a professor at Yale from 1969 to 1995. Born in Iowa, he studied Fine Art at the University of Kansas from 1948 to 1951, until his studies were interrupted by service in the United States Army. His B.A. and M.F.A degrees were earned after his military service, at Yale. His career as a working artist evolved over time.

Bailey’s still-life paintings are neither nostalgic nor narrative. Rather, they are composed of pots, jugs, eggs, and bowls that make up an “ideal form-world”.