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Actually Iconic: Richard Estes  cover image

Actually Iconic: Richard Estes 2019

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Good Docs
Produced by Olympia Stone
Directed by Olympia Stone
Streaming, 68 mins

College - General Adult
Art; Art History; Biography; Documentary; Painting; Photorealism

Date Entered: 12/14/2020

Reviewed by Alessandra Otero, Arts and Humanities Librarian, SUNY Geneseo

This film is an excellent introduction to the creative process of Richard Estes, the king of photorealism. It unfolds how Estes researched and documented the subjects he later paints in his studio, what tools and materials he uses to create his masterpieces and how Estes perceive the world around him. It also presents excerpts of the brushing techniques Estes employs to make a paint.

On another note, I wouldn’t call this film a biographical documentary as its main subject is about how Estes created a painting. Of course, the film mentions some important biographical remarks about the artist. For example, Estes pursued an education at the Art School of Chicago and later worked as an illustrator of Pop Science magazine.

Another interesting aspect of the film, which is more like a secondary subject but relevant to Estes artistic work, is the NYC of 1970. Since Estes lived in this era his work has a documentary value which is of use to those pursuing History Studies, NYC Studies as well as technical theatre studies. Some of the documented subjects are public transportation (subways and ferry) and the urban landscape of NYC of the 1970s.

Floating Stone Productions did a great job presenting the creative process of Richard Estes. This makes this film a great addition to Art and History collections.


Official Selection, Le FIFA; Official Selection, Fine Arts Film Festival; Official Selection, Salem Film Festival; Official Selection, Maine International Film Festival; Official Selection, Newport Beach Film Festival; Official Selection, American Documentary Film Festival; Official Selection, DOCUTAH

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