Super Realism, or Hyperrealism, or Photographic Realism, is as fragmented and heterogeneous as the Pop Art from which it supposedly developed, and it is difficult to formulate any kind of generalisations about it. It involves verisimilitude, objectivity, technical skill, and a concern (for whatever reasons) with the perceived and immediate world. Origins for it can be traced back to Rembrandt’s painting of a slaughtered ox, or Durer’s intimate watercolours of grasses and weeds, or to the great Renaissance tradition of portraiture – in fact, to all the occasions when artists have tried to represent exactly what they see, either confining three dimensions in two or reproducing objects in a material other than their original one.
Whatever else it is, Super Realist art is always striking; it communicates immediately and unambiguously, and, even if the response it evokes is often ‘so what?’, it never simply allows a wall of obscurantist theorising to come between the artist and the spectator.
Edward Lucie-Smith’s book concentrates almost entirely on the