Photorealism: The Sydney And Walda Besthoff Collection

On View at NOMA November 8, 2014 – January 25, 2015

New Orleans, LA— The New Orleans Museum of Art is pleased to present Photorealism: The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Collection, the most extensive presentation to-date of the Photorealist painting collection of Sydney and Walda Besthoff. Unveiled with the Odyssey Gala on Friday, November 7, this exhibition will highlight one of the finest photorealist collections in the United States, based in New Orleans, featuring over 75 works.

The Photorealist collection built by Sydney and Walda Besthoff includes many of the artists associated with the first wave of Photorealism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, such as the renowned Chuck Close, Richard Estes, and John DeAndrea, and also encompasses works by more recent generations who are pushing the boundaries of Photorealism. The collection also features a broad range of engaging subject matter, from detailed cityscapes and portraits, to convincingly real close-ups of objects such as motorcycles, cars, toys, fruit, and flowers.

“Since the mid-1970s, the Besthoffs have been committed to carefully selecting work in this field,” said Susan M. Taylor, NOMA’s Director. “Over time, they have built a collection that displays both breadth and relevance. The public has had the opportunity to view a few of these treasures over the years thanks to the Besthoffs’ ongoing commitment to making examples from their collection available for public viewing at the K&B corporate headquarters in downtown New Orleans. This catalogue and exhibition, however, provide the most expansive opportu¬nity to date for the public to examine the excellence and range of this remarkable group of paintings.”

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 published with Scala Arts and Heritage Publishers titledPhotorealism: Beginnings to Today, which can be purchased in the Museum Shop. 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.

Public Programs:

  • Nov. 8, 2:30 p.m.: Artist Louis Meisel will lead a gallery talk on Photorealism along with six artists represented in the show. Meisel is one of the earliest champions of this art movement, and is credited with coining the term “photorealism.” Participating artists include: Tony Brunelli, Tom Blackwell, Don Jacot, Don Eddy, Ben Johnson, Bernardo Torrens.
  • Nov. 21, 6 p.m.: A lecture on Photorealism by NOMAPhotography Curator Russell Lord
  • Nov. 28, 7 p.m.: Film: Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress
  • Dec. 12, 6 p.m.: Artist perspective with Jacqueline Bishop on Photorealism
  • Dec. 19, 6:30 and 8 p.m.: New Orleans comedy group, The New Movement, will give a tour of the exhibition

About NOMA and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden
The New Orleans Museum of Art, founded in 1910 by Isaac Delgado, houses nearly 40,000 works of art spanning 4,000 years. Works from the permanent collection, along with continuously changing temporary exhibitions, are on view in the museum’s 46 galleries Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The adjacent Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden features work by over 60 artists, including several of the 20th century’s master sculptors. The Sculpture Garden is open seven days a week: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden are fully accessible to handicapped visitors and wheelchairs are available from the front desk. For more information about NOMA, call (504) 658-4100 or visit

For further information, please contact:
Allison Gouaux
New Orleans Museum of Art
Communications and Marketing Manager