Contemporary Magic Realism

      The Abstract Expressionist movement arrived in the mid forties and dominated the art world for two decades. In the sixties, theFortune Teller (1981) by Claudio Bravo Postmodern movements began, and several realist styles emerged. A number of the artists of this period are grouped as Photorealists. Included are Richard Estes, Carolyn Brady, Ralph Goings, Robert Bechtle, Audrey Flack, and the early work from Chuck Close. Photorealism emphasizes the literal depiction of objects or scenery with no engagement with the subject matter. An even larger group of realists in the last four decades are referred to as Contemporary Realists. Included are William Bailey, Philip Pearlstein, Janet Fish and Jack Beal . Many in first generation of these groups were trained during the reign of Abstract Expressionism, but then choose to challenge the prevailing attitudes which were opposed to representational painting. Some of this art seems to create a virtuality, while other work can be dry, ironic or even satirical .Many artists have incorporated some degree of abstraction, flatness or distortion in their paintings to enhanced or twist literal realism . Others prefer to work toward complete naturalism and view their art as being in a classical mode. As in the case of Neue Sachlichkeit, a large number of works focus on the object . It is easy to find works that have traits in common with Magic Realism .

       Realism in various forms is an important component of a broad evolution in the arts loosely defined as Postmodernism . In the latter part of the twentieth century, many of the taboos of Modernism were shattered. Even classical (i.e. Greco Roman) subject matter has again become acceptable, without the label of being regressive. In the Postmodern world art is pluralistic and global in scope. It is often subjective and may be outright eclectic. Many artists employ early Modern  styles or pre-Modern styles interchangeably, drawing references from other periods in art history.

       Many Magic Realists looked to the art of the Old Masters with admiration. But although they borrowed from them technically, the Deva (1988) by Michael Parkessubject matter of their work was  always contemporary. Their art represents perhaps the first "anti-avantgarde" movement, but it still is a type of Modern art. Today the heyday of  avant-garde art has past, and new directions are unclear. At the same time, the renewed interest in the techniques of the Old Masters by a large number of artists makes a statement about the ties of art to the traditions of craftsmanship.

      One of the challenges for the art historian is to help us understand the social factors that contribute to the development of art . Each generation of artists is motivated by unique personal and cultural experiences which can never again be duplicated. In the 1920's and 30's, these experiences were still very regionalized. Today, with mass media, fast communication and accessibility, the world is of course quite different. Art today often finds relevancy by accepting or embracing technology or popular culture. Still the artist who uses Magic Realism as a platform  can bring us a new experience of the world we live in, one which transcends the present, becoming timeless.


Neue Sachlichkeit Gallery
European Magic Realism Gallery
America Magic Realism Gallery

Chapter 1 - Magic Realism Introduction
Chapter 2 - Roots of Magic Realism
Chapter 3 - Neue Sachlichkeit Artists
Chapter 4 - Surrealism vs Magic Realism
Chapter 5 - Magic Realism in other European countries
Chapter 6 - Magic Realism in the Americas (1)
Chapter 7 - Magic Realism in the Americas (2)
Chapter 9 - The Future of Magic Realism