As a painter of New Realism, Otto Duecker brings the art of mimesis to new levels of mastery. His oil on canvas paintings of iconic black and white photographs of famous 20th century figures portray these images with uncanny skill. In actuality they are painted still lifes of the photographs as objects as well as deft grisaille renderings of the photographic portraits of artists, actors, film makers, world leaders and other celebrities. Duecker not only precisely portrays the individual as perceived by the camera but also captures the tonalities and surface texture of the photographs themselves, picturing them pinned or taped to a wall, cracked, torn or slightly crumpled, and casting realistic shadows.
Hyperrealism has had several revivals in American art tradition. Among the most famous of American hyperrealist painters were the trompe l’oeil painters William Michael Harnett and John Frederick Peto of the late 19th century. The style reappeared in the late 1960s with the New Realism, a movement that includes photorealism and the hyperrealistic appropriation of photographic images. Duecker has been exploring his own variation of New Realism for over thirty years and is clearly at the top of his form as a master of the art movement.
Born in 1948 in Milwaukee and raised in the Netherlands, Turkey and Germany, Duecker eventually moved with his family to Oklahoma. In 1970 he earned a bachelor of fine arts at Oklahoma State University. He received national attention in the 1970s for his “Drifters” series of life-size cutouts of street people, painted with such realism that they sometimes caused those who saw them to startle as if being confronted by a real person. In the 1980s his cut-out figures of service people, titled the “Help” series, focused attention on another category of people who are often marginalized and ignored. Duecker next ventured into still life paintings that were anything but still. In these paintings inanimate objects were shown in motion and in unusal settings and configurations, becoming almost surreal.
Duecker first exhibited in Santa Fe with the Elaine Horwitch Gallery in 1981. His work was shown at the 5th International Contemporary Art Fair in Los Angeles in 1990 and the Chicago International Art Exposition of 1991 and 1993. His paintings have been collected by prominent individuals and by museums including the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma.