The artist Chuck Close describes himself as a nervous wreck, an inconsiderate slob and not to mention he claims to be â€śpoor white trash from the state of Washington.â€? However, by looking at his paintings one would never guess his slob-like nature. Close works with painting, photography, and printmaking in a style that has been classified as Photorealism. He takes photos of himself, other fellow artists, and family members. Afterward, he enlarges the prints only to break it down into a grid pattern, and then reconstructs the image very meticulously, painting grid by grid. Big Self-Portrait was his first portrait painted in 1968 that took four months to complete due to his attention in detail. He is intrigued by a photographs ability to show things in and out of focus and to paint the photo with the same exactness. In 1998, Close suffered from a spinal blood clot that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Determined to continue doing what he loved with the help of a specialized brace and assistants, Close began painting again. His portraits had a different aura to them. This ambiance could be explained as celebratory,
Close simply suggests it was because he was so happy to be able to get back to work; his work became freer and livelier by exploring and expanding his color palette. His paintings are a canvas of mini paintings that make up a whole image from a distance.
His portraits encourage the viewer to analyze the face and create their own interpretation or story of what that person is feeling. Close only uses his family, friends, and other artists as subjects in his work; he says, â€śInspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work.â€?
I would compare Closeâ€™s portraits with those of Nan Goldinâ€™s because they only photograph people, specifically people they have personal relationships with. However, Nanâ€™s photographs are quick snapshots that tell the story of her and her friends quite clearly. She describes her work as â€śthe diary I let people read,â€? and just by looking at the photos the viewer steps inside her world and becomes acquainted with each character. On the other hand, the figures in Closeâ€™s portraits usually display a neutral expression. His paintings are cropped so tight the background and body language are eliminated, leaving room for imagination and interpretation. Goldinâ€™s photographs are snapshots of spontaneous situations that strike, where as Close sets up his photos and takes many pictures of the same subject until he captures the right moment and then he spends a great deal of time focusing on the details that make the individual unique.
Essentially, both Close and Goldin have dedicated their work toward preserving the same substance of humanity. However, their methods for achieving this goal differ in either spontaneity or diligence. Close exhibits offer a highly magnified perspective of the human face. Constructed in such a manner that seems to blend the mediums of fine art and photography, the portraits displayed yield a wider understanding of the artistâ€™s attention to detail. For Close, capturing the human essence is obtained by zooming in; Goldin however chooses to achieve the same goal by zooming out while portraying people and their surroundings. I would indeed tell my friends to go see one of Chuck Closeâ€™s exhibits because his personal story is motivating and his style of painting is absolutely mesmerizing.
Chuck Close: Angles of Refraction by Robert Storr
Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1967-2005
Chuck Close: Process and Collaboration