One characteristic of figurative painting since the 1970’s is the further unfolding of several different stylistic trends. One of these is hyperrealism, which consciously mimics photography. The technique and the subject play with the new possibilities of photography; thus the subjects are placed in the setting in a way reminiscent of snapshots and frequently imitate improper lighting or distortion of the photograph. Other aspects of the modern world that the artist interprets individually as well are taken up into painting. In this way, Estes took on big city life in neon lights; Keith Haring oriented himself toward graffiti art.
In contrast to earlier figurative artists that tried to deny an individual style through striking monochrome, artists at the beginning of the 1980’s implemented this consciously. This can be seen in how Baselitz takes brand names and places these pictures upside down. In general, artists are finding their way back to earlier avant-garde movements, though always with an individual critical distance. Pluralism in style emerges from this revisitation, so that there is no longer any definitive style or set canon. One characteristic of current figurative painting is accordingly that a work’s value is not dependent on academic norms or certain schools, but rather is determined by the art market in auction houses or prestigious galleries and thus becomes more democratic.
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