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Kodachrome & Hyperrealism Love

April 2, 2009

I came across this brilliant photograph in the New Yorker eons ago (pre-blog era) and had to do a double-take as I couldn’t believe it was not, in fact, a painting:

Fred Herzog: "Crossing Powell, 1984"

Fred Herzog: "Crossing Powell" 1984

Apparently, Fred Herzog is a Canadian photographer doing his first US one-person exhibition at the Laurence Miller Gallery in New York. His work focuses mainly on Vancouver in the  50’s and 60’s, employing color slides at a time when black and white was the mode. I’m sure his outsider stance is much appreciated now as it yielded a treasure trove of over 80,000 Kodachrome slides.

Whether by Kodachrome technique or mastery of light, Herzog’s photos are so dense in color that I wouldn’t be surprised if some are often mistaken for works in oil; rendered by hand rather than the workings of a camera:

Flaneur, Granville 1959

Flaneur, Granville 1959

Magazine Man, 1959

Magazine Man, 1959

This seems to me the reverse artistry of Hyperrealism in painting.

Instead of producing a painting virtually identical to a high resolution photograph, as in the work of the phenomenal Denis Peterson,

Denis Peterson: "Dust to Dust"

Denis Peterson: "Dust to Dust", Acrylics & Oils on Canvas

"Above Us Only Sky", Acrylics & Oils on Canvas

"Above Us Only Sky", Acrylics & Oils on Canvas

Fred Herzog does the exact opposite with equally admirable results.  Absolutely brilliant!

Sorry if I’m beginning to sound like a Guinness commercial, but I can’t even imagine the skill and utter ingenuity each of these artists had to employ to produce such technically proficient work. They’re basically so well versed in their craft, they can turn it upside down and inside out effortlessly.

While I, on the other hand, can barely draw a straight line…

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