Magic and Fantasy Realism
by N. H.
of Fairy by N. H., done in Fantasy Realism style.
Magic Realism Movement
(prominent from 1943-1950s)
Where did the Magic Realism Movement derive from?
Magic Realism is a form of art that derived from an art
style that originated over half a millennium ago by the Florentines and
the Flemish. According to De Reyna's book Magic Realist Painting Techniques,
some very notable illustrators and painters of this movement were Harnett,
Bierstadt, Eakins, Church, and Eakins (Techniques 7). Magic Realism originally
became popular in Latin America and then spread to the United States by
the mid 1900s. The art works from this era are closely linked to the surrealism
movement because it has surrealism implications mixed with qualities of
wonder and illusion. The term was first used by the German critic, Franz
Roh, in 1925 to define the works of Post-Expressionist painters. He called
it "magic" because it is apparent that it the work isn't direct reality,
but creates an illusion and deep feeling which makes the viewer stare
in awe; just as magicians do (Brava).
What are some characteristics of the Magic Realism Movement?
This "Magical" approach to realism is said to hold "a
mirror to nature." It combines dreamlike elements with reality. It records
every detail which comes from reality and adds little things, here and
there, to make it more outstanding and interesting. As De Reyna so nicely
put it her book of Magic Realism entitled, Magic Realist Oil Painting
Techniques, "It doesn't deceive the eye, it enchants it." (Oil 12). According
to De Reyna in this book,
By taking this approach, you exalt the subject
instead of extolling the hand that makes it. Yet, paradoxically, once
you master the magic realist technique, it will thrust you (or rather
your paintings) into the spotlight even if you'd rather remain in the
No matter how simple the subject is, this type of art always
seems to stand out in the crowd. It draws attention no matter where it is.
The subjects of this style can range from people and animals to landscapes
and other things familiar in nature; in other words, "realistic" characters
(Leeper). Magic Realism portrays something that is common and occurs daily
in nature, but it adds some much more to what it is showing. The viewer
is able to tell that the painting or sketch isn't a photograph. The colors
of these artworks can range from very detailed charcoal or lead sketches
to vivid colors from all across the rainbow painted across canvases. The
characters, things, or event, are recognizable and reasonable, but there
is no clear or logical reason for why it looks the way it does. It appears
to be more realistic that reality sometimes; if it is done correctly (Brava).
Who are some artists and what are some notable artworkds
from the movement?
There are many famous Latin and American artists of this
movement. Each has their own style and way of expression. These are a
few of many artists who do works of magic realism.
- Rudy De Reyna- This artists seems to have mastered
the art of magic realism and has written many books to instruct others,
step by step, to go from a just a realistic sketch to a work of true
magic realism. There is so much detail that it enhances the things in
the real world that seem so small people barely pay attention (De Reyna).
- Ivan Albright(1897-1983)- Albright is an American Magic
Realist Painter. According to USA Today magazine, "Though his paintings
ostensibly are brooding, dark meditations on decay, he did not see them
as a record of decline, but believed that his work presented life ‘viewed
clearly and honestly.'" One of his famous works, made in 1946, is called
Fleeting Time Thou Hast Left Me Old. This painting truly incorporates
the ideas of mystery, detail, and wonder accompanied by magic realist
- Alex Colville (1920-Present)- Colville's subjects always
come from personal experience and surroundings. His paintings include
people he knows and places he has often visited. His work has a balance
of elements, geometric figures, and selection of details. By making
his work from his personal life, he lets the viewer take a peak into
is real world, but adds extra details to give it that "magic" touch
- Dael Keplinger- Keplinger paints from natures "most
magical" moments. His use of color is extraordinary. His oil paintings
depict the most exotic elements of nature. His subjects are mostly from
tropical regions. In Spirit of Shaolin, his use of light, dark, and
reflection gives the picture an almost 3D element (Dael).
- Paul Bos- Bos uses oil and tempera to attain the realist
look. His paintings are so deep and detailed that the view can look
at it forever and each time they find something new. In Atlas the Large
Landscape, the range of color is so vast and the painting is so beautiful
that it seems to be paradise. The details and lighting he achieves in
is paintings is phenomenal and he is known across the world for them.
Summary of Magic Realism Movement
The Magic Realist Movement was made popular in Latin art
the American art. It is closely related to the surrealist movement. This
style adds a little more detail to reality. It enchants the eye and doesn't
deceive it. The subjects are from the real world with realistic characters.
So many different paths of colors can be used to paint magic realist work
and each color has its own, individual effect. It draws in a feeling that
captures the viewer while expresses the artists feelings about something
natural. It is one of many different eras of art.
Fantasy Realism (popular from 1960-Present)
Isn't the name "Fantasy Realism" an oxymoron?
It is true that the words "fantasy" and "realism" are
two very contradictory terms. This style of art shows unworldly and fantasy
subjects in a sense that if the subject really did existed, it would look
exactly the way it was drawn or painted.
What are some characteristics of Fantasy Realism
This style can range from so many things; fairy tales,
legends, science fiction, landscapes, skies, along with many other things.
The key element that all of the Fantasy Realism works have in common is
imagination. In the artists' minds, they have to take a their topic and
draw their own picture or interpretation, realistically, in their mind.
The idea is to draw what that subject would really look like if it did
exist. An artist's character really comes out because the way they portray
the character(s) in their work is different that what the viewer might
imagine the character to look like.
Where can Fantasy Realism be found?
This kind of realism can be found all over the world and
from any time within the past millennium; mostly from the 1960s to the
Present. The works have gone from being simple pencil sketches to paintings,
and most recently to computerized images. There are literally no boundaries
to Fantasy Realism.
Who are some artists associated with different types
of Fantasy Realism?
- Jeff Spackman- Spackman's paintings are so fun to look
at. He has a broad range of subjects for his paintings. In this painting
Thieves, he shows leprechauns creeping around in the night with their
gold. In Angel, an angel is ascending towards heaven. Spackman has developed
his own form of expressing fantasy (Spackman).
- Michael Bohbot- Bohbot draws mostly from science fiction.
Zintara is a painting of a women with raven wings standing on top of
a cliff. It is an adventurous painting that looks like there must be
some well developed story behind it. Zintara looks like a women who
can do whatever she wants (Bohbot).
- Carol Hurst- Hurst specializes in natural occurrences.
She draws the sky, but has added such strong emotion to it. There is
so much more in her paintings that what really does happen which makes
it interesting and wonderful. She had perfected her own way of drawing
clouds that the had described has a "diaper-looking" effect. Heavenly
Splendor is a great example of a unreal looking thunderstorm (Hurst).
- A story that everyone knows is Alice in Wonderland.
A story written through the ideas of fantasy realism. Sketches and paintings
from this time are some of American's first works of Fantasy Realism
How are the Magic Realism Movement and the Fantasy Realism
Both of these types of realism have a sense of magic to
them, but this magic comes from different sources. In Magic Realism, the
subject is of the "real world," with real characters. The subjects of
Fantasy Realism come from an "imaginary world" and deal with fantasy characters.
These are two opposite and extreme styles that show just how diverse realism
- Artcyclopedia. "Artists by Movement." Magic Realism.
Jan. 2000. 13 Sept. 2000. .
(There are links to information about ten different artists.)
- Artist Garden. "Publishers of Fine Art." Alex
Colville. May 1999. 1 Nov 2000.
(Alex Colville's major works and a little information about his style.)
- Baker, Virgil. From Realism to Reality.
Freeport: Books for Libraries, 1968. (This book shows comparisons of
photos to realism paintings.)
- Bohbot, Michael. "Michael Bohbot Illustrations." Sept.
2000. 30 Oct 2000. (Many
pictures of fantasy realism.)
- Bos, Paul. Magic Realism. March 1996.
19 Oct. 2000. (Contains beautiful pictures by different artist
in the Magic Realism style.)
- Brava, Leon. "Magic Realism." Realismo Magico.
Sept. 2000. 2 Oct. 2000.
(This contains many different artworks by Latin magic realist painters.)
- Chase, Linda. Hyperrealism. New York:
Rizzoli, 1975. (Shows more examples of art of the hyperrealism movement.)
- Dael, Keplinger. Magic Realism. The Art
of Dael. Jan 2000. 2 Oct. 2000.
(Dael's Personal webpage containing some of his latest works.)
- De Reyna, Rudy. Magic Realist Oil Painting.
New York: Watson-Guptill, 1980. (De Reyna shows step-by-step demonstrations
of Magic Realist Art.)
- De Reyna, Rudy. Magic Realist Painting Techniques.
London: Pitman, 1973. (This book provides an excellent definition of
Magic Realism and shows different painting techniques to achieve the
"eye enchanting" look.)
- Donnell, Courtney Graham. "Unnerving Realism of Ivan
Albright." USA Today Online. (March 1997). (Biography
and listing of some famous works of Albright.)
- Hurst, Carol. "Fantasy Realism." Dynamic Landscapes.
Jun 1997. 17 Oct 2000. (Many
different paintings about the sky that look very realistic and mysterious.)
- Miranda, Sharon. "Spackman Art." Fantasy Realism.
Aug. 2000. 23 Aug. 2000. (Contains
tons of paintings done in Fantasy realism.)
- Ovden, Graham. The Illustrators of Alice.
New York: St. Martin's, 1972. (Provides some images of Alice in Wonderland
in Magic (Fantasy) Realism.)
- SILS (School of Information and Library Studies) Art
Images Browers. "Ivan Albright." Sept 1998. 29 Oct. 2000. (Enlarged image of an artwork by
and Thought of Western Man
Rich East High School * Park
Forest, IL 60466
This page was created on 2/12/01 by N. H. Last revised
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