Classic car paintings play major role in huge photorealism exhibition

| 8 Nov 2013

Europe's biggest ever retrospective dedicated to photorealist painting is to feature many famous canvases featuring classic cars.

Held in conjunction with the Institut für Kulturaustausch (Institute for Cultural Exchange), Tübingen, Germany, Photorealism: 50 Years of Hyperrealistic Painting opens at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on 30 November and runs until March next year (2014).

It will display influential works from the US artists who developed the genre including the likes of Chuck Close and John Salt and more than 10 major works with classic cars as the subject.

The classic car-related paintings include Don Eddy's untitled picture of four Volkswagens (above), Gus Heinze's Mobile Reentry Vehicle (below) and John Salt's White Chevy – Red Trailer (main image).

Andy Horn, head of exhibitions at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, said: “Not since the 1970s has there been the opportunity to view so many Photorealist paintings in one place. This exhibition – the first in Europe to gather all the star names of the genre – is a real coup for Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.”

Click here for more information on the exhibition.

More pictures that will feature in the show include:

Plum Delicious by Peter Maier

Gator Chomp by Peter Maier

Here's some background on photoreralism from the museum:

In the late 1960s, a group of artists emerged in the US whose focus was the realistic depictions of everyday objects and scenes. Photography was used as a source for their paintings, with images of consumer goods, cars, motorcycles, diners and cityscapes – the clichés of American life – painstakingly reproduced to a much larger scale in oil and acrylic.

This first group of Photorealists had its roots in the United States, taking the American way of life as subject. Transport was a running theme in this early period, with scenes of trucks, planes, motorcycles and cars common. The seminal works Bride (1969) and White Chevy – Red Trailer (1975) by Birmingham-born artist John Salt - himself raised in a family employed in car manufacturing - are included in the exhibition. The great Chuck Close, meanwhile, became known for massive scale portraits, constructing faces through a complex grid-based reconstruction from photography.

The second generation of Photorealists, working in the 1980s and 1990s, built upon the work of those who had gone before them, with an increasingly international focus. The era of digital photography inevitably impacted upon Photorealism, with a third, present-day, group of artists creating paintings pixel-by-pixel, resulting in pin-sharp accuracy. The exhibition features work by these later Photorealists, including Peter Maier who - having worked for several years as a designer in the car industry - uses special automobile paint applied with a spray gun in as many as twenty-five layers to make his images of highly polished car bodies.

Photo credits: foto gonzalo de la serna/Birmingham Museums Trust/Institut für Kulturaustausch, Tübingen