THE INADEQUACY OF PHOTOREALISM
“Every beauty which is seen here by persons of perception resembles more than anything else that celestial source from which we all are come.” – Michelangelo Buonarroti
In contemporary art history, modernist theory has always maintained that the goals of figurative arts, both sacred and secular, were a linear objective of achieving similitude—the likeness of the object or image perceived. With the invention of the photograph, this presumed goal was not only achieved but pictorial realism and the photo became quasi-synonymous.
This Darwinian thinking is perhaps why those artistic achievements of naturalism and idealism of form began to all but disappear from both secular and sacred art. This linear thinking held that, with the invention of the camera, all art was free from its former goal of copying the model, from a goal of exactitude with what was considered an idealized form. Compounded with the advent of pictorialism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the line between photography and art became all too close. Then, with the dawn of impressionism, both it and realism soon replaced the naturalism of painting or drawing from life, along with invention and any use of idealism. The New Realism was king.