American photo- or hyperrealism was a very successful art form in Germany during the 1970s.
I think that these ultra-realistic paintings offered many non-Americans a much more comfortable grip and understanding of the "American Dream". For many left-leaning critics Pop-Art embraced consumerism and the banality of art a bit too friendly and carefree.
Photorealism, on the other hand baffled with spectacular painting techniques and a completely irony-free, piercing stare into the American landscape. The shiny, glaring surface on many paintings was either over saturated with colours or so overexposed, almost bleached by the sun, that you´d reach for your sunglasses instinctively.
Suburban scenes of people standing in front of their houses and cars, sunbathing inhabitants next to the countless backyard pools, details of cars, reflecting showrooms, diners, close-ups of candy and dripping jelly-cakes, fractures of baroque neon-signs by day and crashed limousines rotting in high grass. You almost feel like a voyeur.
Like failed attempts of the perfect advertisement, glimpses into a mostly empty world that is filled with useless and decorative place holders.
I think that photorealism is still amazing because it managed to transform a seemingly banal picture into something worth looking at by subjecting it to imaginary sunlight.
Today, Photoshop allows us to create pictures that are so hyper-perfect that the unreal effect is nearly the same. It also allows us to create a picture in "photorealistic style" with the help of a filter. It makes it much more interesting to see what they saw.
I always loved photorealism because it pictured (and suggested) exactly what I liked and what I missed growing up in rebuilt but still scarred Germany: The vast spaces, the tacky colours, the bizarre chrome, the humming of air-condition, lonely palm trees and kidney-shaped pools.
The Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin is currently hosting "Picturing America - Photorealism in the 1970s", which is the first extensive exhibition in Germany for 30 years, covering the most prominent works of Robert Bechtle, Charles Bell, Tom Blackwell, Chuck Close, Robert Cottingham, Don Eddy, Richard Estes, Audrey Flack, Franz Gertsch, Ralph Goings, Ron Kleeman, Richard McLean, Malcolm Morley, Stephen Posen, John Salt, Ben Schonzeit and Paul Staiger