47.9 х 60 in. (121.67 x 152.4 cm.)
This early work by Richard Estes is a large-scale social tableau set at the iconic Bethesda Fountain in New York’s Central Park. Combining plein-air spontaneity with studied compositional harmony, “Bethesda Fountain” shows the young Estes reworking the motif of the urban pastoral, presenting a contemporary American interpretation of the Impressionist tradition. This work is rare for having been executed in 1966, at the very beginning of Estes’s painting career, and two years before the artist’s first solo show in New York. The reflective surface of the fountain water, built up through loose, gestural brushwork and delicate touches of color, presages Estes’s career-long preoccupation with the ephemeral nature of light and reflections.
Photo-Realist painter Richard Estes (b. 1932) focuses on urban subjects and geometric landscapes. Known for his ability to paint glass, chrome and the reflections within and around them, Estes is one of the founders of the international photo-realist movement of the 1960s. Like Audrey Flack, Chuck Close, Denis Peterson, Duane Hanson, Ralph Goings and other sixties-seventies realist artists, Estes painted from photographic stills rather than from life, in order to capture the elusive and photographic quality of light and to create paintings that appeared as photographs. His subjects include storefronts, buildings, city dwellers, icy glaciers, Antarctic landscapes and New England landscapes. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Endowment Fellowship Award for Painting (1971), the California Arts Council, Achievement in Visual Arts Award (1995), and the MECA Award for Achievement as a Visual Artist, Maine College of Art (1995). His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Hirshhorn Museum of Sculpture, Washington DC; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima, Japan. He lives and works in New York and Maine.
Selected Public Collections:
Académie Francaise, Paris, France
Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, Illinois
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
Museum of Modern Art. New York, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Tate Gallery, London, United Kingdom
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York