September 9, 2009

The Art of Chuck Close

Chuck Close (1940 - present) is a painter and photographer, capturing his subjects using very unusual techniques. He creates works of art based on the faces of his friends, which eventually turn into dramatically over sized portraits that are nine feet tall. In addition to himself, his sitters range from strangers to family to young artist friends. The subjects weren’t supposed to be recognizable. “I was intent on just painting really anonymous people,” Close recalls. “Then they managed to become famous, and it kind of screwed up my game plan.”

(Close, Chuck. Self Portrait. c. 2008. daguerreotype.)

Depicting his subjects many times larger than life with a hyper-realistic outlook, Close focuses equally on traditionally unimportant features such as skin, hair, and stubble as well as the eyes, nose, and mouth. Chuck Close has both embraced and shrugged off the traditional rules revolving around portraiture and has wound up in new territory.

(Close, Chuck. Lorna Simpson. c. 2008. daguerreotype.)

In 1988, long after his initial success, a spinal blood clot left Close partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. While he made a triumphant return to work, he also noticed a change in people’s response to him personally.

(Close, Chuck. Cindy Sherman. c. 2008. daguerreotype.)

“Before I was in a wheelchair, I was 6’3”. I very rarely got approached by people, and I suppose I was just too big or too unapproachable. Being put into the wheelchair sort of cut me down to size, and I think it’s made me far more approachable, so it’s interesting that people approach me all the time and tell me that my work has been important to them or that they have gotten pleasure from it, and you know it’s really nice. I don’t mind – I mean what could be better than to have people tell you what you do has meaning for them and has brought them pleasure? So, it’s been a benefit.”

(Close, Chuck. Philip Glass. c. 2008. daguerreotype.)

In a world where the mainstream is busy air brushing “the imperfections” out of their digital photographs, Chuck Close breaks all the rules and uses the daguerreotype photographic process, invented in 1839. It captures a direct positive image onto a metal plate; usually copper coated with silver and is renowned for the detail and depth of its rendering. Close captures every feature of his subjects, imperfections and all. This intimate view of his subjects reveals unique characteristics that give you the clues as to who the person really is and his work is much appreciated here!

Enjoy :)

Reference: Chuck Close