Chuck Close is associated with the style of painting called Photorealism
or Superrealism. In this style, artists in the early 1970s created
a link between representational systems of painting and photography.
Photorealism developed as a reaction to the detachment of Minimalism
and conceptual art, which did not depict representational images.
Photorealists 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 Photorealists used the airbrush
Big Self-Portrait, in black and white, was the first of
Close's mural-sized works painted from photographs. This painting
took four months to complete. To make this work, Close took several
photographs of himself in which his head and neck filled the frame.
From these he selected one of the images and made two 11 x 14-inch
enlargements. On one of the photographs he drew a grid, then lettered
and numbered each square. Using both the gridded and ungridded photographs,
he carefully transferred the photographic image square by square
onto a large canvas measuring 107 1/2 x 83 1/2 inches. He used acrylic
paint and an airbrush to include every detail.
When Close was making his painting he was concerned with the visual
elements--shapes, textures, volume, shadows, and highlights--of
the photograph itself. He also was interested in how a photograph
shows some parts of the image in focus, or sharp, and some out-of-focus,
or blurry. In this portrait the tip of the cigarette and the hair
on the back of his head were both out-of-focus in the photograph
so he painted them that way in Big Self-Portrait.
Artists frequently change their style of work and Close experienced
a tragedy that subsequently influenced his painting style. In 1988,
he had a spinal blood clot, which left him a quadriplegic, unable
to move either his legs or his arms. With a paint brush clamped
between his teeth, he developed a new way to paint. His portraits,
the photos, and canvases were gridded off by assistants and then
he used his mouth brush to paint, using the techniques of grisaille
and pointillism within the grids. This
is similar to technique used by the Impressionists
and Pointillists. The result was still a canvas of mini-paintings,
which when viewed from a distance are seen as a single or unified
style of painting in which an image is created in such exact detail
that it looks like a photograph; uses everyday
subject matter, and often is larger than life.
an object in nature in recognizable form.
painting technique using only grey tints.
painting technique in which a white background is covered with tiny
dots of pure color that fuse when seen from a distance producing
a luminous visual effect.
style of art in which the least possible amount of form shapes,
colors, or lines are used to reduce the concept or idea to its simplest
form (geometric shapes, progressions).
in painting in which the emphasis on light and color, loose brush
strokes, ordinary subject matter; creates the "impression" of a
moment in time. Dabs and strokes of color are used to depict the
natural appearances of objects and reflected light.
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