Stark Realism

I’ve recently become interested in the art movement called ‘Stark Realism’. I have been inadvertently drawing and painting images that subscribe to this for years. If ‘Stark’ is defined as having a very plain or often cold or empty appearance; unpleasant and difficult to accept or experience; bare or blunt, then I think the following two images qualify:

The Perfect Braid Charcoal


My two drawings here are then, examples of stark realism. In perusing the internet for other examples, I came to realize that the Forum Gallery seems to seek out Stark Realism painters. Here, for example, is a painting by artist Paul Fenniak who the Forum represents.


Here is another Forum Gallery artist by the name of Susan Hauptman:


Steven Assael is a Forum Gallery artist:


The Forum Gallery has somehow missed Daniel Sprick. Sometimes his still lives qualify as Stark Realism:


To better understand Stark Realism, one must look at its inception in modern art. One of the earliest examples of Stark Realism is the painting, ‘American Gothic’, by regionalist painter, Grant Wood.
American Gothic became the most familiar image in 20th century American art, launching the new genre of Stark Realism. Embodied in the portrait is a story told with the blunt force of two people staring at you while one holds a menacing pitchfork. It is discomforting to behold, but we are captivated by the storytelling aspect. We are interested in looking at it, not merely because of its beauty. Detail is an important characteristic of Stark Realism since everything within the frame provides important information. Andrew Wyeth was also a painter of Stark Realism with his Helga series. Consider the detail in Wyeth’s work.

From the middle of the last century, until now, Stark Realism has been on a slow brew, but it is the new avant-garde; post postmodernism. Start looking for it to evolve in fascinating ways, and start buying it!

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2 Responses to Stark Realism

  1. Barbara Pask says:

    Wow Bill, both of these sketches are fantastic!

  2. wrjones says:

    Thanks Barbara – I’m saying thanks for Lisa. These are her very large graphite drawings. I can see where you could be confused as Lisa hasn’t been around for years. She dropped out to live in harmony with nature and the marijuana plant. She is back – still a bit foggy to be sure but doing some very neat abstract works which will show up here eventually (when the grass runs out).

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