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Rudolf Häsler – An avant-garde painter of Photorealism

The word Photorealism was coined for the first time by Louis K. Meisel a gallery owner from New York in 1969. He designated an American art movement that began in the late 1960s and was completely new to art adepts. Photorealism is a genre of art that encompasses painting, drawing and other graphic media, in which an artist studies a photograph and then attempts to reproduce the image as realistically as possible in another medium.

Rudolf Häsler, Bar de noche, 43nd Street, New York (1992), Acrylic on wood

Rudolf Häsler, «Bar de noche, 43nd Street, New York» , 1992

Rudolf Häsler’s creative development culminated in a meticulous depiction of his surroundings, which, in comparison to his former artworks, increasingly correspond to our experienced reality. The novelty about photorealistic paintings consists in combining traditional imagery, associated with paintings, with stylistic devices characteristic of photography. Taking a closer look to Häsler’s painting of 1985 entitled «Butcher shop», it is visible that the foreground of the painting is depicted well-focused, whereas the background is blurred, as if it was out of focus– a phenomenon which is commonly attributed to photography. The compositions of Häsler’s photorealistic paintings are highly rich in details, even in the background the amount of details only minimally diminishes. 


Rudolf Häsler, «Metzgerei», 1985

Häsler’s concern is not to depict a painting with photographic preciseness; his major point is to make a conscious creative decision on which details are to be accentuated. Not every finesse is elaborated within his paintings, some details remain merely suggested. Häsler differs from other photorealistic painters because of the intriguing contrast he creates between meticulous preciseness and deliberate fuzziness. As in the painting «Bar de noche, 43nd Street, New York» of 1992, some elements are represented with means of graphical aesthetics. Those non-elaborated sections reveal the way in which Häsler proceeded to paint his photorealistic oeuvres: Häsler’s work did not consist in just copying photographies – in contrast his working process included several drafts, sketches and color surveys. His main concern is not to give an account of the truth, but rather to construct an abstract reality, prone to idealization, which, to the artist’s regard, is more capable to depict the atmosphere of a specific place.

About artist
Rudolf Häsler
Interlaken, 1927 — 1999

Rudolf Häsler (29.7.1927, Interlaken - 18.1.1999, Sant Cugat del Vallès) has worked as a primary school teacher in Interlaken since 1947. At the same time, however, he took painting lessons and travelled throughout Europe. In 1952 he gave up teaching and devoted himself completely to art. Trips to the Sahara, Seville, Granada, Italy, Yugoslavia, and Andalusia followed. In 1956 he met María Dolores Soler in Granada. In 1957 he travels with her to Cuba to her hometown Santiago de Cuba and marries her there. Fascinated by the country, Häsler decided to stay in Cuba and started a family there.
In Cuba, Häsler experienced the climax of the Cuban Revolution, and he himself was enthusiastic about the atmosphere of change. He wanted to play an active role in this social change and joined a group of artists who were particularly dedicated to art on buildings. He also developed a concept for the establishment of a nationwide ceramics industry, which was approved by the government. Häsler was promoted to managing advisor in the newly founded National Institute of Decorative Arts and was made director in 1960. He is the second highest foreign deputy in the Cuban state after the Argentinean revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the then Minister of Industry.