The New Orleans Museum of Art is pleased to be organizing Photorealism: The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Collection, the most extensive presentation to-date of the Photorealist painting collection of Sydney and Walda Besthoff. Presented during the fall of 2014, this exhibition will highlight one of the finest photorealist collections in the United States, based in New Orleans, featuring 78 works from the late 1960s to recent years. The Photorealist collection built by Sydney and Walda Besthoff encompasses a wide range of artworks from 1969 to 2013, including many of the artists associated with the first wave of Photorealism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, such as renowned artists Chuck Close, Richard Estes, and John DeAndrea, to younger artists pushing the boundaries of Photorealism in recent years. The collection also features a variety of enticing subject matter, from detailed cityscapes and portraits, to convincingly real close-ups of objects such as motorcycles, cars, toys, fruit, and flowers.

Photorealism is loosely defined as painting that is based upon the precise replication of a photograph. This distinction is key in distinguishing Photorealist painting from trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”) paintings, which convincingly replicate scenes or people as they appear in life. A Photorealist painting is not simply “lifelike,” it is a translation of a photograph (or several photographs) into a painted image. Photorealism is a process of “seeing” with the gaze of the camera and a completed photograph in mind, an attribute that makes it relevant to discussions on human perception today.

This exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog titled Photorealism: Beginnings to Today, published in November 2014 with Scala Arts and Heritage Publishers. The catalog chronicles the development of the Besthoff collection, and explores the meaning of Photorealism and its unique relationship to photography. Together this exhibition and publication will inspire a generation of viewers interested in discovering this exceptional and distinctive genre.



Peter Maier

Collection of Sydney and Walda Besthoff / Image: (c) Peter Maier, courtesy Louis K. Meisel Gallery



Ben Schonzeit

Collection of Sydney and Walda Besthoff (c) Ben Schonzeit, courtesy Louis K. Meisel Gallery

Citarella Fish Company


Richard Estes

Collection of Sydney and Walda Besthoff / Image: (c) Richard Estes

Roman Beauties


Audrey Flack

Collection of Sydney and Walda Besthoff