The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Galerie Dennis Cooper presents … Realnesses *

* (restored)


Realism as a philosophy of mind is rooted in the “common sense” philosophy of perception known as naive realism, which has been developed as “direct” realism when distinguished from representative realism, the view that we cannot perceive the external world directly.

Critical realism is the theory that some of our sense-data (for example, those of primary qualities) can and do accurately represent external objects, properties, and events, while other of our sense-data (for example, those of secondary qualities and perceptual illusions) do not accurately represent any external objects, properties, and events. Put simply, Critical Realism highlights a mind dependent aspect of the world, which reaches to understand (and comes to understanding of) the mind independent world.

Hyperrealism is used in semiotics and postmodern philosophy to describe a hypothetical inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced post-modern societies. Hyperreality is a way of characterizing what our consciousness defines as “real” in a world where a multitude of media can radically shape and filter an original event or experience.

Transcendental realism arguably has its roots in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and refers to a form of transcendentalism that permits the subject to be fully cognizant of all limitations of their mind, and adjust their cognition accordingly as one seeks to understand the noumenon (or the world as it actually exists—things-in-themselves). In this way, the subject is able to know the world of things-in-themselves, and, presumably, is able to scientifically test such noumena.

Moderate realism is a position in the debate on the metaphysics of universals which holds that there is no realm in which universals exist (against platonism), nor do they really exist within the individuals as universals, but rather universals really exist within the particulars as individualised, and multiplied. This position is also called immanent realism. It is opposed to both full-blooded realism, such as the theory of Platonic forms, and nominalism. Nominalists deny the existence of universals altogether, even as individualised and multiplied within the individuals.

New realism is a rejection of the epistemological dualism of John Locke and of older forms of realism. For example, when one is conscious of, or knows, an object, it is an error to say that the object in itself and our knowledge of the object are two distinct facts. If we know a particular cow is black, is the blackness on that cow or in the observer’s mind? Consciousness is not physically identical with the nervous system: it is “out there” with the cow, all throughout the field of sight (and smell, and hearing) and identical with the set of facts it knows at any moment. The nervous system is merely a system of selection.

Quasi-realism is the meta-ethical view which claims that: Ethical sentences do not express propositions. Instead, ethical sentences project emotional attitudes as though they were real properties. This makes quasi-realism a form of non-cognitivism or expressivism. Quasi-realism stands in opposition to other forms of non-cognitivism (such as emotivism and universal prescriptivism), as well as to all forms of cognitivism (including both moral realism and ethical subjectivism).



‘Occupying marginal areas such as wall corners, fissures in the floor, and gaps around the edges, Tony Matelli’s Weeds are hyper-realistically rendered in bronze, vellum, paint and wire.’



Michael Zavros: ‘My drawings and paintings been described as narcissistic and I don’t shy away from this. I am quite interested in a male vanity because I think it represents a curious taboo in contemporary culture. It is anathema to stereotypical notions of masculinity, which I ultimately find boring. I am less interested in fashion per se, but rather what fashion imagery offers, which is usually a flight of fancy, a perfection of an idea, and highly aestheticised imagery. I work often from found imagery and I buy a large number of magazines and I find the imagery transporting, very creative, and highly artful. I am particularly interested in contemporary fashion’s articulation of the male form, the dandy and the fiction of the contemporary male.’



‘A year out of college, Steve Mills’ first solo show in 1983 was a smashing success, selling 33 of 35 originals at the Granary Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard. In 1989 he began his affiliation with Gallery Hencoh in New York City. Between the 2 galleries, Mills has sold almost every piece he has painted. Producing and selling over 500 paintings in his first 20 years has had collectors literally waiting in line outside the gallery before an opening; creating such frenzy, one show sold out in 10 minutes. However, with the time it takes to paint in the photorealist technique – some paintings taking over 500 hours – it has proven impossible to do more than one gallery opening a year.’ —



‘Danish artist Christian Lemmerz is known for his aesthetics of decay and his daring combinations of clashing materials. Lemmerz is educated as a classical sculptor, but works within a wide range of media. He is co-founder of the studio Værkstedet Værst in 1981. He also works in the mediums of drawing, painting and doing performances, theatre and video. Lemmerz art is full of contradictions. He confronts us with the sacred, pathos, illness, death and depravation, but also profanity and elements of kitsch. Also his choice of conflicting materials can seem provocative. He challenges the classical sculptural tradition by using organic and perishable materials such as blood and dung from animals in combination with lasting and beautiful materials such as plaster, marble and bronze.’ — Edition Copenhagen



Randall Rosenthal, a wood sculptor from New York, has become a modern master of an art form probably about as old as we are. What seems like a cardboard box full of cash is actually a wooden sculpture called “Cold Hard Cash” carved by Rosenthal out of a single (glued-together) block of wood. Between his amazing cardboard box piece and all the other paper mimicry that he does, there’s a lot to be impressed about. First and foremost is the fact that, due to the excellent paint job and perfect sculpting, most of us are completely fooled by his illusions. Another reason why his works are so amazing is because they’re carved out of a single mass of solid wood. One larger mistake and he’d have to start over – or at least invest a lot of time to fix his mistake. But if you tried to kick this cardboard box around, you’d probably break your toe.’



Marc Sijan‘s meticulous creative process begins with the construction of a plaster mould from a live model,” it says. “He then uses a magnifying glass to sculpt the interior of the mould in order to assure that each detail is accurate, before casting the figure in resin. Realistic flesh tones are then achieved with multiple layers of oil paint and varnish, a process that takes around six months to complete.’



Roxy Paine’s work examines processes of growth and decay, creation and entropy, on both manmade and natural scales. From the artist’s best known dendroid sculptures to works based on weeds and rot to his automated painting and sculpture machines, Paine continues to return to questions of environment as related to the viewer. Encountering his work, often in public settings, not only results in a distinct sense of place, but also generates connections between human bodies and those bodies and their shared space. Paine’s work is represented in major museum collections worldwide, and his recent large-scale installation, Maelstrom, is currently on view in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.’ — Museo



Linnea Strid was born in 1983 in a small Swedish village where she lived until she was 16, when her family decided to move to Fuengirola in Southern Spain. She lived there during her teens and it was here that she started up her artistic career with several exhibitions. In 2004 she moved back to Sweden and attended art schools for four years. Strid now lives in Uppsala, Sweden, and is working as an artist full-time. She knew when she was a small child that some day she would become an artist, since the need to express herself with paint and in other creative ways has always been fundamental to her. Strid likes to paint in a photo realistic style, but always with the strong desire to convey an odd feeling, a forgotten memory, or maybe just something that is typical of her own little world.’ — sweet-station



‘Born in Tel Aviv in 1972, Ron Gilad trained as an industrial designer at the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. In 2001, he relocated to New York City where he established his studio Designfenzider. Gilad takes a cerebral approach to design. Primarily working on furniture, products, and tabletop objects, he has become recognized for an autonomous design language based on a willingness to explore the expressive qualities of objects through a rigorous conceptual and intellectual approach aimed at opening up dialogue and provoking debate.’ — Space etc.



Kim Keever’s large-scale photographs are created by meticulously constructing miniature topographies in a 200-gallon tank, which is then filled with water. These dioramas of fictitious environments are brought to life with colored lights and the dispersal of pigment, producing ephemeral atmospheres that he must quickly capture with his large-format camera. Keever’s painterly panoramas represent a continuation of the landscape tradition, as well as an evolution of the genre. Referencing a broad history of landscape painting, especially that of Romanticism, the Hudson River School and Luminism, they are imbued with a sense of the sublime. However, they also show a subversive side that deliberately acknowledges their contemporary contrivance and conceptual artifice. Keever’s staged scenery is characterized by a psychology of timelessness. A combination of the real and the imaginary, they document places that somehow we know, but never were.’ — Kinz + Tillou



At just 30-years-old, Karol Rybakowski is already one of the biggest names in the world of tattoos, and looking at some of his works, it’s pretty easy to see why. His portrait tattoos look as if a picture has been slapped on the subject skin, and in many cases they turn out even better than the photos that inspired them. It won’t surprise you to learn that Karol Rybakowski studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, in Warsaw, before becoming a tattoo artist, but while that explains his artistic style, I for one still can’t wrap my head around how a 30-year-old can create such stunningly-realistic tattoos. And apparently, I’m not the only one. About four years ago, just when his works started showing up online, people in the business who had never seen his tattoos in person actually thought that they were photoshopped. There was a particularly heated debate surrounding his tattoo of Bradley Cooper as sniper Chris Kyle in “American Sniper” with many people claiming that it looked too good to be true.’



‘The heightened realism of Pamela Michelle Johnson’s paintings serves to remind viewers that this is a mirror to our culture. Overbearing scale and gluttonous quantities, juxtaposed against foods that are both tempting and comforting, examine the conflict between enjoying the highly processed, artificially flavored bounty of American life and the progression to overindulgence and gluttonous excess. The work is both gross and enticing. Empty wrappers forgotten and abandoned in a world of nothingness, question the sustainability of our excesses. The use of intense lighting and deep shadows coupled with exaggerated scale and unique compositions updates the classical notion of still life painting and gives it a contemporary twist.’ —



Philipp Schaerer: ‘The main focus of my interest lies in the creation of images which try to reflect a built, exaggerated reality. Today, digital image editing allows the creation of images which are nearly impossible to distinguish from a photograph. But what other image strategies and esthetics can be pursued with the help of digital image techniques – image strategies which are not only aimed at the most exact realization of photographic rendition? Working with images, I am interested in the creation of images which in fact are based on a photographic language, but which can be abstract, model-like and exaggerated and try to reformulate the question of the differentiation between reality and image.’



Sanna Dullaway, a Swedish artist who added color to a series of iconic black-and-white photos, is now receiving a lot of unwanted attention for her project. A week ago the artist wrote on Reddit: “I thought I’d show my best colourizations and some restorations that I’ve been doing for fun. Hope you enjoy!” Some photos are of historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Che Guevara, and others are of graphic images of bombings, war, and civil unrest. The young Swede (who has just launched a business colorizing old family snapshots) displayed these color versions side-by-side with the originals. Suddenly, figures and scenes long burned into our minds in their original black-and-white incarnations were popping out in color—rusty reds, rich golds, the blue of cornflowers and irises. The images spread quickly on news sites and Facebook feeds—and then some people got mad.’ — Planet Mag



Riusuke Fukahori’s stunning works feature incredibly realistic paintings of goldfish swimming in traditional Japanese-style ponds. The one of a kind pieces blend sculpture and painting in a method so detailed, it is almost impossible to distinguish them from reality save for the fact that the fish are completely suspended in motion. To produce the fantastical pieces, Fukahori uses a painstaking technique that allegedly took 15 years to perfect. He begins with the fins of each fish and alternates layers of paint overlaid with clear resin, finishing off with the body and other final details. With each layer taking up to two days to dry, it’s easy to imagine the time required to finish each piece. According to an interview with the artist and master craftsman, who originates from Yokohama, each piece takes months to complete – with the smallest item on show taking a minimum of two months.’



‘Even as he allows us to scrutinize his subjects, Karel Funk reveals little of their lives. His paintings are firmly rooted in the history of portraiture, acknowledging his debt to Renaissance masters such as Holbein and Bronzino, with their focus on precise detail and brushwork. And like those artists, he pays great attention to what his subjects wear, seeing the jackets and hoodies he provides them as modern-day armor and shields. By obscuring the face or cloaking it altogether as Funk does, it becomes very hard to find a specific narrative or emotion about that person. His paintings give you very little. There’s nothing there to connect with except for the formal qualities, the texture of skin, hair or clothing, and the questions you’re left with about ‘Who is that person?” — W Magazine



Older School

John De Andrea & Duane Hanson

Gottfried Helnwein

Don Eddy

Maestro Giuseppe Muscio

Ron Mueck

Chuck Close

Richard Estes

Evan Penny

Robert Bechtle

Marc Sijan



p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, May Mr. Sondheim’s health take a lengthy curtain call. ** Derek McCormack, Derek! Guess what, mine too! Big love to you, maestro! ** Corey Heiferman, I will. Will bring candles. I should always carry a candle with me in fact just in case. Nah, I was, what do they say, exaggerating for effect. And happily my novel got swept up by the best publisher in France yesterday, so it would be the Empire State Building, if I leap. Hm, no, not off the top of my head. I’ll think, and I’ll … Everyone, do any of you know of a well-done satire on smart phone addiction that you could tip Corey to? Quote: ‘There seem to be lots of dystopian or self-help critiques, but I’m looking for something closer to Tati.’ Help him out? ** Sypha, Hi, James. Well, needless too say, I’d be more than very happy to have that Jung guest-post, yes! I was eyeballing a couple of your old guest-posts to restore just yesterday. Not the one you asked me not to restore, don’t worry. But, anyway, yes, please! And thank you! ** Bill, Apparently the Error message was doing its job properly for once. I’m always so impressed at the cogency of your thinking and typing immediately after such an immense time change. I’m often recommending movies but ‘in-flight only’. I wish I could read fiction on planes, but I just can’t. My brain refuses. Non-fiction and magazines. That’s my limit. Welcome home! ** KK, Hi there, KK! Thanks about the post. Me, I’m alright. Usual stuff. Working and stressing and having solid fun occasionally. America is something of a no small embarrassment these days, but, if it makes you feel any better, no one over here blames the majority of you guys, just the monstrosity in charge and his supportive idiots. You’ll be in SCAB, cool, congrats to you and to Dominik! And on/in Vol. 1! Those are some pretty great venues. Very interested to your interview with TJW. I liked his book a lot, as you probably know. Dasa Drndic’s book … no. I don’t know that person or their work. I’ll do my hunt to rectify that today. Thank you for that alert. Happy rest of the week to you too, man. ** Steve Erickson, Hey. I didn’t hear the first mature Kesha album, I’ll admit. Maturity is so overrated though. I think I’m getting really bored with dissing. It’s too de rigeur these days. Well, that is good news that your eye thing is cataracts-based in the sense that there’s a culprit and a way to evict the culprit. Good! ** Right. I seem to be in a post restoring phase this week, and here’s another one from a ways back, reconstituted from the DC’s mortuary. See you tomorrow.


  1. kier

    hey deedee! nice post i think i missed it the first time so its my first time with it. congratulations on the publisher!!! thats so huge!!!!!! im so happy for you:))) will it mean a larger distribution than you’ve had before? or better pay for you? i hope so, but its amazing either way. i’m coming to paris this summer! we’re going to the house in arcueil again, may 25th-june 7th. it’ll be me and ottar and my friends hanna and iris who were there with us last time, plus a few other people might come by. you briefly met iris’ boyfriend erik (tall blond skinny swedish) and sally (blue hair swedish)at the PGL showing, they’ll come too. i hope you and zac are around then. i see that how you will disappear is on in paris when we’re there, lucky lucky when can we get tickets?? is that the one with fog by fujiko nakaya? if anything else of yours/giesele’s is showing nearby during that time let me know pretty please, also anything else like concerts etc. im definitely gonna go to the perfume museum this time. i’m looking forward to it soooo muuuuch. i’m gonna have a little solo show in may at this tiny gallery right by vega, the movie theatre they showed pgl at, so that’s what i’m working on these days. its gonna be medical-fetish-themed, at least somewhat. i did these drawings for a group show recently where all the works were displayed on this old gynecological bench so that inspired me. i put the documentation from that on my website, i’ll put the link in the website box below if you wanna see! how are you? love love love k

  2. Sypha

    Hey Dennis, congrats on getting a publisher for your novel.

    Were you talking about my Ligotti Day? If so, thanks for reminding me, I do plan on updating that one later on this year, maybe over the summer. It shouldn’t take long, because it’s not as if he’s been super-prolific these last few years: I’d probably just mention some of the books he’s had released since then, bring up the whole “TRUE DETECTIVE season 1 plagiarized him” controversy that briefly propelled him into the mainstream, talk about how Penguin Classics put out some of his books, and so on and so forth.

  3. Thomas Moronic

    Beautiful post today. Fake real is always such a trip. And sometimes more real than real. It made me think about the French artist The Kid as well – his sculptures look insanely lifelike sometimes. I also have a thing about fake food, too, for some reason.

    Amazing news about the French publisher, Dennis! Congratulations! I’m so dying in anticipation for your new book. Argh!!!

    Also, HAPPY FUCKING BIRTHDAY for tomorrow my dear, dear friend.


    Thomas xoxo

  4. Steve Erickson

    I’d be interested to read anyone else’s picks for Tati-like satire on smartphone addiction. It feels like this is too recent and raw for writers and filmmakers to have the right distance yet. We’re more likely to get something like the BLACK MIRROR episode about the guy who killed his wife in a car crash because he was distracted by his phone.

    That last Kesha album is pretty good, especially “Praying,” “Bastard” and “Hymn,” but I’m suspicious of my own response because she abandoned her earlier sound to turn into a guitar-based singer/songwriter drawing heavily on ’70s Dolly Parton, as well as rock and soul of that same period. Even after poptimism, it’s easier for music critics to take that style seriously than the heavily Autotuned dance-pop-rap of ANIMAL.

    I’m heading to a rally against war with Iran tonight. I know you like to keep this space free from politics, especially the “Cheeto man bad” rants that fill up social media, but I’ll just say that it feels productive to try to do something about this anger as a public collective instead of just bitching on Facebook.

    Ironically, MOMA just announced the North American premiere of Mehrdad Oskouei’s new film SUNLESS SHADOWS next month, two years after the retrospective of his work that I programmed at Anthology. But they’ve had to cancel the in-person appearance they initially announced, to no one’s surprise.

    • Steve Erickson

      Also, congrats on the publisher! Is it POL? I hope you can land publishers for the book worldwide very soon.

  5. _Black_Acrylic

    Congratulations and Happy Birthday all together! Sometimes the stars really do align. Capricorns are one of the zodiac’s most energetic and hardworking signs, so maybe there really is something in it.

  6. Ferdinand

    Hey Dennis. The very friendly always smiling post man (this guy clearly loves his job, driving his delevery vehicle ) dropped off some of your books today. Including Wrong. Was that after Closer? The books arent available in South Africa (not via online orders either, but then Ive been able to import Acker so…) and via libgen only Frisk is available and Ugly man, so thats nice to get my hands on some as Ive only read and liked Frisk. At the moment I just started Our lady of the flowers and its so poetic, Ive never read Genet before so il snuggling up.. for the moment theres not really much to do in Belgium except sorting and submitting important docs, and god my partner’s waver for being declared an undesirable in South Africa for overstaying has been wavered so its a lift off the shoulders. Hopefully visit Paris next weekend for 4 days but its not going to count as a honeymoon i dont think.Hows the weather and metro in paris?

    • Ferdinand

      Import via a bookstore i mean

  7. Ferdinand

    Oh is it your bday? Cool happy bday!

  8. Derek McCormack

    Congratulations, Dennis! And thanks for bringing back this freaky day.

  9. Kyler

    Publisher! Birthday! Let me add a third: Full Moon! Whoa, Dennis – your birthday always previews mine and gets me ready. Have a great day, bud!

  10. Mark Stephens

    Hey! Happy Birthday, my dear friend. You remain one of the most extraordinary humans I have ever known. You make me happy (and that’s no mean feat!). Thank you. I love you so. I hope the advent of your birth is filled with beauty. xo, M

  11. Misanthrope

    Dennis! Congrats on the publisher. I’ve convinced myself that my asking you about it made it happen. 😉

    And happy birthday!

    And…Hidden yesterday and a Galerie today. It’s like it’s my birthday all over again! I just watched a tour of Chartwell House in CA the other day, with its underground tunnels and stuff. I love that shit. Secret passages and whatnot. I also like the idea of bulletproof glass, safe rooms, and force fields.

    I finally get my laptop at work Friday. I hope there aren’t any glitches. 😮

  12. Bill

    Congrats on the publisher, and happy birthday Dennis!

    More later, when I get my laptop issues addressed and I actually have a real keyboard to type on…


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