Richard Estes (born May 14, 1936 in Kewanee, Illinois) is an American painter who is best known for his photorealistic paintings. The paintings generally consist of reflective, clean, and inanimate city and geometric landscapes. He is regarded as one of the founders of the international photo-realist movement of the late 1960s, with painters such as Malcolm Morley, Chuck Close, and Duane Hanson.
At an early age, Richard's family moved to Chicago. As a young adult, Richard studied fine arts at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He frequently studied the works of realist painters such as Edgar Degas, Edward Hopper, and Thomas Eakins, who are strongly represented in the Art Institute's collection. Richard moved to New York City in 1956, after he had completed his course of studies, and worked for the next ten years as a graphic artist for various magazine publishers and advertising agencies in New York and Spain. During this period, he painted in his spare time. By 1966, he had the financial resources to devote himself full-time to painting.
Most of Richard's paintings from the early 1960s are of city dwellers engaged in everyday activities. Beginning around 1967, Richard began to paint storefronts and buildings with glass windows, and more importantly, the reflected images shown on these windows. The paintings were based on color photographs he would take, which trapped the evanescent nature of the reflections, which would change in part with the lighting and the time of day. While some amount of alteration was done for the sake of aesthetic composition, it was important to Richard that the central and the main reflected objects be recognizable, but also that the evanescent quality of the reflections be retained. Richard had his first of many one-man shows in 1968, at the Allan Stone Gallery. His works have also been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In 1971, Richard was granted a National Council for the Arts fellowship.