Painterly to Precise: Richard Estes at the Currier Museum of Art

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The Currier Museum recently acquired two stunning Estes works, Baby Doll Lounge (1978), a painting of a TriBeCa street scene, and Qualicraft Shoes (The Chinese Lady) (1974), a monumental screenprint of a storefront. The latter beautifully captures reflections in nearby windows while Baby Doll Lounge offers Estes’ characteristically intense depth of field, with near objects as clearly defined as those in the distance.

Two new acquisitions provide the heart of a focus exhibition of works by one of America’s best-known photorealist painters, Richard Estes (born 1932). The new exhibit Painterly to Precise: Richard Estes at the Currier, on view from February 14 through June 15, 2015, complements the current exhibition Still Life: 1970s Photorealism. His work was recently featured in a popular and critically lauded career retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, Richard Estes’ Realism. NPR’s Susan Stamberg called Estes, “An intense observer of the built environment.” He currently lives in coastal Maine and New York City, two of his most often painted locales.

The Currier recently acquired two stunning Estes works, Baby Doll Lounge (1978), a painting of a TriBeCa street scene, and Qualicraft Shoes (The Chinese Lady) (1974), a monumental screenprint of a storefront. The latter beautifully captures reflections in nearby windows while Baby Doll Lounge offers Estes’ characteristically intense depth of field, with near objects as clearly defined as those in the distance.

General Information
The Currier Museum of Art, located at 150 Ash Street, Manchester, N.H., is open every day except Tuesday. It is home to an internationally respected collection of European and American paintings, decorative arts, photographs and sculpture, including works by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and O'Keeffe. Visitors of all ages will enjoy the engaging exhibitions, the dynamic programs ranging from art-making and lectures to music, a Museum Shop, and an airy, light-filled café. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the Museum. The Currier welcomes visitors with disabilities and special needs. We are wheelchair accessible and offer FM headsets for sound amplification at many public programs. For more information, visit http://www.currier.org or call 603.669.6144, x108.

The Currier Art Center offers studio classes, art camps, Master classes and intensive workshops for all ages. The Museum also owns the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Zimmerman House, complete with the original furnishings and the owners' fine art collection.

Also on view will be a series of Estes’ 1960 figure sketches from the Currier’s collection and two other Estes paintings, Three Figures (1960) and Gingko Tree (1971). These provide insight into his development as an artist, in terms of his working methods and choice of subject matter.

In preparation for each of his photorealistic paintings and prints, Estes took photographs of buildings and street scenes from multiple locations, generally on Sunday mornings, before people could populate the view. He then pieced them together into a final painted composition that ultimately depicts a constructed reality, unique to Estes’ vision. His paintings and prints often seem so realistic that they give the feel of a documentary photograph.

Realism in the Currier Collection
Realism itself is not new. Fans of this style can find it in many works in the Currier’s permanent collection. These include Balthasar van der Ast’s Still Life of Fruit on a Kraak Porcelain Dish (1617) and Edward Hopper’s The Bootleggers (1925). Also in this vein is a recent acquisition, Sisters of Charity (1937) by Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi, which features a fascinating New York City street scene populated by two rather masculine-looking nuns, a woman revealing her backside while bent over a stoop and a proto-bobbysoxer in a somewhat transparent dress observing the nearby action. These works of art remind the viewer that realism is a style that has been revisited repeatedly in Western art over the centuries.

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J Simoes
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