Richard Estes was born in 1932 in Kewanee, Illinois, but moved to Chicago at an early age. He remained there to study at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1950s, where his training centered on figure drawing and traditional academic painting, the style that interested him most. The Art Institute's comprehensive art collection was important in shaping Estes's work; he frequently studied the works of such artists as Edgar Degas, Edward Hopper, and Thomas Eakins there. Upon graduating in 1956, Estes moved to New York, working in the graphic design field as a freelance illustrator and for various magazine publishers and advertising agencies. Estes continued to paint at night and was eventually able to pursue his career as a fulltime artist.
Painters such as Vermeer greatly influenced Estes with their detailed observation of reality and their use of technical devices, such as the camera obscura . More modern precedents for Estes's painting can be found in the work of Charles Sheeler and the American Precisionist painters of the 1930s, who often used photographic sources to ensure accuracy of line and form.
Estes chose to present isolated buildings, urban street scenes, escalators, subway cars, and distorted reflections seen in shop windows and shiny automobiles. His compositions are typically devoid of people and therefore convey a sense of somber isolation without narrative. Although the illusionistic effect of Estes's paintings suggests they are directly copied from one photographic source, an Estes painting is, in fact, a composite of several photographic views of the same subject.
He is not concerned with recreating exact copies of photographs, but rather in manipulating and reconstructing them to create a view that, (although scientifically inaccurate), appears more truthful to the eye than reality.
Terms used above.
Richard Estes has released a new range of woodcuts over the past few years.
They are available through the Art Collector. The woodcut is the art of engraving on wood by hollowing out with chisels areas of a plank of usually cherry wood, pear, apple or boxwood, leaving a design on the surface. Inking the surface with typographic ink, and applying pressure with a press achieve the transfer of this design to paper. The woodcut technique was used for decorating textiles in China as early as the 5th century AD and by the 15th century it was applied to religious images and playing cards in Europe.
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