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  • Chuck Close

  • There is a tradition of emphasizing those key areas of the face which control likeness, while the skin, neck, hair and background are not considered of primary importance in the reading of a portrait. I wanted to make those areas almost as interesting and important as the more symbolic areas of the face.

  • Chuck close is associated with the style of painting called photorealism or super realism.This style of art emerged in the 1970s and was a reaction against minimalism and conceptual art which did not show representational objects.This style of art created a link between realistic painting techniques and photography.

  • The Process

    Photorealist frequently used a grid technique to enlarge a photograph and reduce each square to formal elements of design. Each grid was its own little work of art. Many of the Photorealist used the airbrush technique.

  • When viewing the work of Chuck Close it is important to note the scale and dimensions of his work, they were often enormous!

  • Big Self Portrait 1968This was the first painting Close produced from photographs and it took 4 months to complete.Close first selected which photograph he wanted to work from and then made 2 enlarged copies.On one photograph he drew a grid and numbered each square.Using both the gridded and un -gridded photographs Close carefully transferred each square onto a larger canvas.This painting was produced using acrylic and an air brush.

  • Close was interested in how a photograph shows some areas in focus and others not.

    Which parts of this portrait are not in focus?

  • A Change of Style

    In 1988 Close experienced a tragedy that was to effect his painting style. He had a spinal blood clot that left him quadriplegic and unable to move either his arms or legs.Close then painted with a paintbrush between his teeth in a pointillist style.

  • His photos, canvases and portraits were gridded off by assistants and he then painted each picture with a paintbrush between his teeth.Close usually takes 4 months to complete a piece of work.

  • The technique Close uses generates a similar effect as pointillism.

    Each small dot creates the illusion of a larger image when viewed from a distance.

  • The technique Close used of gridding up a picture was nothing new.This technique dates back to the time of the Italian Renaissance (1450 late 1500s)

  • As Close developed his style of painting his use of colour and how he applied this to his work also changed.

  • The colour Close applied to his Heads were chosen to depict the type of colour seen in a polaroid photograph.

  • Fragments of colour are laid side by side to create optical illusions of the correct skin colour and pigmentation needed for each area on the face.This creates a similar effect to that of digital photography.

  • By the mid 1980s the work of Chuck Close centred on the very idea of painting and creating colours on a canvas.

  • Chuck Close born July 5th, 1940, Monroe Washington, USA