‘The photograph is like a reference, a sketch. The great thing about the photograph is that you can stop things. I always thought of myself as a Realist painter. The photo is just a convenience’ (Richard Estes)


Richard Estes was born in Kewanee, Illinois in 1932. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1950’s and having completed his training, began to work for a series of advertising agencies and publishing companies. In 1959 he moved to New York, where he worked as an illustrator and designer and became acquainted with the world of photography. When he had saved enough money, he stopped working and travelled around Spain. In 1967 he showed some of the works executed during his trips to Allan Stone, whose gallery staged his first one-man show in 1968. In barely three years his work became known throughout the United States and Europe.


Estes is considered one of the founding Photorealists, a group of artists who used photo-based techniques to achieve hyperrealist effects in their paintings. Estes’s paintings extend beyond a mere translation of photographic verisimilitude. His images of urban landscapes (usually of New York, although he also painted images of Venice, Florence, Barcelona, Cordova, and Hiroshima) transform the light and forms captured in his photographs into a painting of focus and extreme precision.

‘One demonstration of the way photography became assimilated into the art world is the success of photorealist painting in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is also called super-realism or hyper-realism and painters like Richard Estes, Denis Peterson, Audrey Flack, and Chuck Close often worked from photographic stills to create paintings that appeared to be photographs’ (Graham Thompson).


The exaggerated focus and luminosity of Richard Estes’s artworks draw closer attention to previously unseen or overlooked aspects of the urban environment, encouraging viewers to interrogate the relationship between reality and vision. The majority of his cityscapes are devoid of people and narrative potential. Although Richard Estes admired Edward Hopper, he executed urban landscapes of a different nature, as they avoided night scenes and were devoid of narrative and emotional elements.
On the contrary, he seeks to capture times of day when the light is brightest, and is especially attracted by metal surfaces, glass and mirrors, revelling in the deformed images of their reflections. Although they greatly resemble photographic views of the world, and Estes bases his compositions on photographs, he does not use them to imitate reality but to reconstruct it with a much sharper focus than direct observation allows.

URBAN LANDSCAPE III. Shapero Modern is proud to offer Urban Landscape III. The complete set of eight screen-prints in colours, on Fabriano Cottone paper. The eight plates Include: Manhattan; Flughafen; Cafeteria, Vatican; Subway; Bus Interior; Eiffel Tower Restaurant; Movies; and Lakewood Mall.