The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (‘Thyssen’) is my favourite museum in Madrid. It has an excellent permanent collection spanning from the 13th to the late 20th century and first-rate temporary exhibitions. I went to visit my dear friends the Bs, ex-Londoners turned Madrileños.
On my 2011 visit, we saw there a mesmerising exhibition of Jean-Léon Gérôme, and are still debating whether we saw ‘Heroinas’. If we did, it was clearly a forgettable show! In my most recent stay, I saw two exhibitions at the Thyssen (Impressionism and Open-Air Painting and Hyperrealism 1967-2012), one of which you can still see.
The Thyssen Hyperrealism exhibition would have benefited from some explanatory boards, in my view. But researching later I learned that Hyperrealism emerged in the US in the late 1960’s when artists painted objects and scenes from daily life with a high degree of realism. My first encounter with the artworks left me incredulous… did the works use the same process as pop art artist Warhol used? Were they paintings like Gerhard Richter’s or even photographs?
Looking closer, I realised that hyperrealism artists used photography as the basis for their works. Particularly impressive was their painted representation of chrome with all of its reflections, highly effective in giving the work the illusion of a photograph. Hyperrealism was mainly a US and UK movement, and continues today. The Thyssen exhibit offers a survey of Hyperrealism, starting with the US first generation masters and their legacy up until today. Shame there were no sign boards and a meagre leaflet to go with the exhibition (until June 9).