FRANZ GERTSCH: Johanna II
As a boy, Franz Gertsch was greatly influenced by the Old Master painters of the Baroque period and hence developed a keen attraction to naturalism in art. In the 1960s he began to paint directly from projected slides in order to capture the radiance of the photographic image, harkening back to a similar – though more antiquated – technique used by the 17th century Dutch artist Jan Vermeer.
Gertsch, though a leading Photo-Realist painter, is emphatic in drawing a distinction between the simple imitation of a camera's view and achieving, by means of brush and paint, a creative depth that is often absent in the photographic portrait. Currently, he uses projected transparencies only as a guide for his extremely large works, images whose intense intimacy of detail belies their majestic scale. The artist has stated: “The more I focus on the photographic original, the more I move away from it.”