Chuck Close Essay, Research Paper
Born in Monroe, Washington, in 1940, Close studied painting at Yale University before moving to New York in 1967. Although he greatly admired Abstract Expressionist painters such as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and, especially, Willem de Kooning, he wrote, “They nailed it down so wellthat I couldn’t do anything but weak impersonations of their work. . . . Once you know what art looks like, it’s not hard to make some of it. . . . The dilemma I found myself in after having gotten out of graduate school is enjoying making art but not liking what I made.” Close’s paintings were based on black-and-white photographs he took of himself and his artist friends, all of whom were fairly unknown at the time. He enlarged and transferred the photographic images to canvas by a process of grids. Close didn’t want to make Pop posters of famous people. Chuck Close liked to use a grid method where he drew each portion of the paintings on a grid, block for block making near perfect replicas of the photo or he would make abstract pictures.
Linda is a very realistic piece made with acrylic and pencil on canvas. Close drew it exactly as a photo very clear around the face, eyes, nose, and mouth. However the outside of the hair, the cheek, the neck and below are all blurred. Just as in a photo. Linda is a middle age woman with brown curly hair and lots of make up. There are very thin lines everywhere in no specific direction, lots used under the eyes. Color is used a lot, there’s red to show the make-up, white to show glare, blue shows eye shadow colors are obviously mixed to get the realistic skin tone. There is lots of value to get a realistic look for example the fading color of the make-up. The tome of this piece is a medium tone. Highlights are used in the eyes, nose, mouth, and inner cheeks. The texture is sooth. There are no specific shapes that close used, there are however Organic shapes as a result of his use of the grid. Like the curls on the hair, the oval shaped eyes, etc. There is No negative space the only possible negative space is the background, which is even shaded. The color is the strongest element there are so many blended to make such a realistic look it just draws me to the picture, only by looking very closely do I realize it’s a painting. I think the design principle rhythm is mostly in the hair how it just curls around, down into the face it make you look everywhere. The mood of this piece is very dull the woman looks like she’s had a rough day, and is tired. The focal point is the woman’s face where it is not blurred. This piece is asymmetrically balanced.
This piece is a self-portrait done with oil on canvas; the entire thing is done on a grid with different shapes and shades of gray. Each box on the grid looked at closely is a circle or an X or oval but step back and it is a picture of a middle age Chuck Close. The use of lines is mainly in the grid. The color is black and white, with different shades of gray. There is a wide range of value, each block blends to make a big picture. The tone is dark and the contrast is low. There are highlights used on the face. The texture is smooth. The shapes are lots of X’s and O’s on a grid to make a portrait. He uses positive space every block is accounted for even the background. Shape is the strongest element because the whole thing is made with individual shapes. The element of value grabs my attention best, if there were no value you wouldn’t be able to see the big picture. This piece shows rhythm by using the shapes on the grid, it makes me look more closely. The directional movement moves toward the portrait. The shape also show unity with how they are pieced together to make the portrait. I think to mood of this piece is dull he the picture of close him self is not too dull but since it’s in black and white it is, an overall dull painting. The focal point of this painting is on the painting of Chuck Close. This piece is asymmetrically balanced.
The two pictures are pretty much the same theme. The both are pictures of people that are not necessarily famous. Neither person looks like there in a very good mood, or are attractive. They both are done using the grid method, where each block is put together to make a big picture.
The difference between these two pieces is the look. The realistic one is very real looking while the abstract one is obvious what the picture is it looks very much like a drawing. Each grid is used to make shapes while in the realistic one the grid is used just to portion off areas that Close can draw perfectly.
Chuck Close is so far my favorite artist I have analyzed. He puts a lot of time in his work. Especially for the realistic paintings and for the abstract paintings he also puts in lots of time, but I especially like the creativity in the grid of the abstract paintings. Chuck Close is someone I can really admire.
1) Chuck Close by Robert Storr, Curator in the department of painting and sculpture at the museum of Modern Art, New York.
2) The Chuck Close Brochure at the Hirshorn Museum.