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Jamie Salmon/avatarsculptureworks.com
Jamie Salmon/avatarsculptureworks.com

9 Amazing Masters of Hyperrealism

Jamie Salmon/avatarsculptureworks.com
Jamie Salmon/avatarsculptureworks.com

For some artists, the prevalence of cameras in our modern world is a challenge to make even more realistic artwork. These are some of the most impressive artists working in the ultra-demanding realm of hyperrealism.

1. Jamie Salmon

Jamie Salmon from Avatar Sculpture Works is one of the best known hyperrealistic sculptors—and one of the top in this field: Every pore, hair follicle, wrinkle, and freckle looks completely real. Even more impressive, each of his works seems to evoke a very specific, very vivid emotion, which makes the viewer feel something, too—just like great art should.

2. Sam Jinks

Sam Jinks’ amazingly realistic silicon sculptures range from touching (a grandma holding an infant) to creepy (a human head with white orbs for eyes and a blank spot where the mouth should be). But no matter what he sculpts, the end result is realistic to the point where gallery viewers would be forgiven for trying to offer help to the artworks pinned to the wall or sprawled out on the floor.

3. Ron Mueck

Sometimes it’s practically impossible to tell that hyperrealistic sculptures are actually artworks and not just people standing around. Such is not the case when it comes to Ron Mueck’s creations, but only because his work is often massive in scale. In fact, one of his most famous pieces, “Mask II,” is a sleeping head that measures almost 4 feet long; "A Girl" (above) is 16 feet long.

4. Evan Penny

Perhaps one of the most impressive things about many of Evan Penny’s silicon sculptures is the fact that while they look exactly like the models they were based on when viewed from the correct angle, they are not accurate on a 3D level.

Viewed from another side, you can easily see that Penny has flattened out the subjects so they only look totally realistic when viewed from the right spot.

5. Carole Feuerman

Carole Feuerman has set herself apart from many of the other hyperrealism sculptors by not only using resin—a much harder material than silicon—but also by focusing on the way water drops form on human skin. Most of her creations appear as though they just emerged from a pool. The effect allows for an extra level of realism, and emphasizes Carole’s impressive grasp on human anatomy.

6. Roberto Bernardi

Plenty of artists and writers describe their work as depicting a “slice of life,” but in Roberto Bernardi’s case, viewers are likely to feel as though they are viewing a scene taken right out of their own daily lives. That’s because rather than finding inspiration in the extraordinary, Roberto finds his muse in showing the beauty trapped in the everyday scenes we all take for granted—market displays, vending machines, dirty dishes, etc.

7. Jason de Graaf

Like many artists specializing in hyperrealism, Jason de Graaf seems to enjoy a challenge.  He likes to throw a few extra difficulties into his artwork—often choosing to paint reflections in objects, and liquids splashing about in crystal glasses. Amazingly, even with these nearly impossible subjects, his works often tend to look as though they really are photos rather than paintings.

8. Juan Francisco Casas

It’s one thing to be able to make unbelievably real artworks with silicon, resin, and paint, but imagine creating something that looks just like a photograph that’s gone through a color Photoshop filter using just a ball point pen. That’s the magic of Juan Francisco Casas’ artwork. With the same writing utensil you used to draw explicit images in the margins of your high school notebook, this amazing artist is able to create hyperrealistic drawings chock full of passion and emotion.

9. WForrest

WForrest‘s digital artworks are so photorealistic that he has actually had to upload images of the designs being created from start to finish in order to show that yes, they are, in fact, not photographs. Be warned though: if you visit his website to look at more of his artworks, there are a lot of adult images and they’re realistic enough that you might have a hard time convincing your boss that you’re looking at art.

There are those who criticize artists who specialize in hyperrealism on the grounds that life casts and cameras could easily create the same things in a fraction of the time. But aside from appreciating the pure skill that goes into making something so totally realistic, it’s also good to remember that if something were to happen and cameras became a thing of the past, these artists will be the only people around who are able to accurately capture a moment in history—and that’s something to celebrate.

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Art
5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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