Sketchbook: Frank Oriti Photorealism

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Read the script:

[SLIM] WHAT IN TARNATION IS THAT? A PAINTING OR A PHOTOGRAPH? WITH SOME ART, LIKE WHAT'S IN THIS HERE GALLERY, IT'S HARD TO TELL UNLESS YOU REALLY LOOK CLOSE FOR BRUSHSTROKES. THAT'S KINDA THE POINT. IT'S A STYLE CALLED PHOTOREALISM.

FAMOUS PHOTOREALIST ARTISTS INCLUDE CHUCK CLOSE AND RICHARD ESTES. YOU CAN SEE THEY OFTEN TOOK INSPIRATION FROM WHAT WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM. OHIO ARTIST FRANK ORITI ALSO USES THIS STYLE WHILE PAINTING THE FRIENDS IN HIS LIFE. HE TOOK INSPIRATION FROM NORMAN ROCKWELL, A FAMOUS ILLUSTRATOR WHO WORKED IN A SIMILAR STYLE.

ROCKWELL WAS KNOWN FOR HIS ILLUSTRATIONS OF AMERICAN LIFE ON THE COVERS OF THE SATURDAY EVENING POST. HE STARTED HIS CAREER EARLY AS THE ART DIRECTOR FOR BOYS' LIFE, THE BOY SCOUTS MAGAZINE, WHEN HE WAS ONLY A TEENAGER. FRANK ORITI BEGAN PRETTY EARLY IN LIFE TOO. TAKE A LOOK.

[FRANK] MY MOM CAME HOME WITH THIS NORMAL ROCKWELL ADDRESS BOOK. AND I WANT TO SAY EVERY FEW PAGES HAD ONE OF HIS PAINTINGS IN IT. AND WHAT STRUCK ME WAS FOR THE FIRST TIME I WAS SEEING WORK THAT WAS SO REALISTIC THAT IT LOOKED ALMOST PHOTOGRAPHIC.

AFTER I GRADUATED BOWLING GREEN, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SPRING OF 2007, I'D JUST GOTTEN THIS DEGREE IN PAINTING AND DRAWING. THERE'S NOT REALLY A LOT OF THINGS YOU CAN DO, ESPECIALLY IN CLEVELAND AT THE TIME, WHERE YOU'RE USING YOUR ART DEGREE. BUT I MOVED HOME AND I MOVED BACK INTO THE HOUSE THAT I GREW UP IN. AND I THINK AT THAT TIME I HAD STARTED THINKING ABOUT HOW A LOT OF MY FRIENDS, AND MYSELF INCLUDED, ALL LEFT OUR PART OF TOWN TO GO AWAY TO COLLEGE OR GO TO THE MILITARY, WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT WE WERE GONNA GO OUT INTO THE WORLD AND NOT RETURN OR RETURN UNDER DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES. AND THEN WE ALL ENDED UP COMING HOME. AND THAT STRUCK A CHORD WITH ME AND I STARTED THINKING ABOUT THAT.

- I'VE SEEN PEOPLE PAINT REALISTICALLY, OBVIOUSLY, BEFORE AND PHOTOREALISTICALLY, WHICH IS WHAT HE DOES. WHAT IMPRESSED ME WAS THE FACT THAT THERE WAS SO MUCH FEELING AND SO MUCH A SENSE OF THE PRESENCE OF THE PERSON IN THESE PAINTINGS. IN HIS OWN SELF-PORTRAIT, WHICH WAS I THINK THE FIRST THING I SAW OF HIS, AND IN A NUMBER OF OTHER PORTRAITS OF YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN USUALLY WHO APPARENTLY WERE MEMBERS OF HIS CIRCLE AND HIS FAMILY IN PARMA. I WAS BLOWN AWAY.

[FRANK] I WOULD SAY THAT IT WAS DEFINITELY A GENERATIONAL THING THAT WE WERE EXPERIENCING THIS DECISION OR LACK OF DECISION MAKING THAT ALL KIND OF HAD US RETURNING HOME, TRYING TO SHOW THAT UNCERTAINTY OR THAT STRUGGLE THAT WE WERE EXPERIENCING, WE ARE EXPERIENCING AS A GENERATION. THAT WAS ONE OF THE MAIN GOALS IN WHAT I WAS TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH IN THE EARLIEST PORTRAITS.

- HE'S A GUY WITH A LOT OF ... A LOT OF HOPE. YOU WOULDN'T EXPECT THESE PAINTINGS TO BE PRODUCED BY A HOPEFUL GUY, BY A GUY WHO HAS NORMAN ROCKWELL INFORMING HIS UNCONSCIOUS, BY SOMEBODY WHO HAS THAT KIND OF AMERICAN DREAM IN THE BACKGROUND. I THINK THAT IN THE END IS WHAT THOSE EARLY DISCOURAGED PEOPLE IN THOSE PAINTINGS ARE ABOUT, IS THE FACT THAT HE HIMSELF REALLY IS A MAN OF CONSIDERABLE HOPE AND DETERMINATION. AND HE BELIEVES IN HIMSELF; HE BELIEVES THAT HE CAN DO IT. AND THE WORLD IS RESPONDING TO THIS.

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