Another fishy piece of photo-realism, here the Morley method (see Prawns) is visually breaking down, as the apparent subject of the painting (the shell-fish) begin to be lost in the actual subject of the painting (the abstract pattern of coloured shapes that make up the photograph).
A photo-realist painting (as distinct in this case from super or hyper-realism) is in this sense nothing other than a work of trompe l’oeil, where the subject of the painting is always the photograph, the edges of which lie outside the painting’s composition. In this sense photo-realism’s roots lie not just in Pop Art, but also in the 19th century academic still life paintings of artists such as William Harnett and John Frederick Peto. This anti-modernist aspect of photo-realism has led to the criticism that it is a complete abandonment of modernist principles and a vacuous return to a decadent, old fashioned, bourgeois art form long considered dead. It is certainly one of the great ironies of photo-realist painting that it achieves its effect of academic illusionism through the simulation of abstract patterns of colour that go to make up photographic images.