Richard Estes was born in Kewanee, Illinois in 1932. He studied fine arts at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1952 to 1956. He found himself inspired by realist painters such as Edgar Degas, Edward Hopper, and Thomas Eakins. After school, Estes moved to New York City and worked as a graphic artist with magazine publishers and advertising agencies for 10 years. He also spent time living and working in Spain. By 1966, Richard Estes was able to focus solely on painting.
Up to this point in Richard Estes career, his work was comprised of super-realistic and detailed city scenes and people going about their everyday life. By 1967, humans were removed from his images and subjects became storefronts and buildings with strong emphasis on the reflections in glass, automobiles and chrome. Richard Estes captures typical scenes found in cities, including scenes of Chicago, Paris, Venice, San Francisco, Prague, Barcelona, London and Florence. His work of New York City is where he focused the most attention and is perhaps what he is best known for.
Richard Estes is considered as one of the founders of Photorealism movement, which includes other such artists as Chuck Close and Duane Hanson. Estes prefers to be considered as simply a painter. In the 1960s, he began to use a camera to record the details of a scene. For compositional purposes, he does alter the scenes and could use several photographs to create a single painting as to not be limited to copying a photograph.
In 1968, the Allan Stone Gallery gave Richard Estes his first of many solo exhibitions. In 1971, Richard Estes was granted a National Council for the Arts fellowship. His work continues to be exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the world.
Select public collections
• Académie Francaise, Paris, France
• Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan, United States
• High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
• Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., United States
• Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany
• Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., United States
• Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts, United States
• Teheran Museum of Contemporary Art, Teheran, Iran
• The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States
• The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois, United States
• The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, United States
• The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York, United States
• Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York, United States