Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Master of Photorealism

For those of you who may not know, photorealism is style of art that delves into the intricacies of painting and drawing in order to bring new life to photographs. Photorealists attempt to recreate, as accurately as possible, what they have photographed on an entirely different medium. One of the great masters of this art form is the American photographer/photorealist Chuck Close.  Close is specifically famous for his wonderfully realistic portraits of other people. Despite losing his father at age 11, he was still able to thrive creatively because he grew up in a supportive atmosphere. Close grew up in Monroe, Washington only thirty miles outside of Seattle, which was where he first began to understand art. His mother regularly took Close to art museums in Seattle where he was able to experience the works of many famous artists. His earlier works were mostly of other artists and family members close to him. 

As beautiful as his works are, many people do not understand Close's truly impressive artistic ability.  Close suffers from a disease called Prosopagnosia, otherwise know as face blindness, which means that Close's ability to recognize other peoples' faces is extremely impaired.  It is unbelievable that a man who is so overwhelmingly talented at recreating portraits of others would be unable to visually recognize someone's face. Close was not only talented at photorealism, and while in college he practiced a wide array of artistic styles.  As a Yale graduate, Close was more interested in expressionism, which was a very different direction than the majority of his current works. It was not until Close began to challenge himself that he stumbled upon photorealism. He decided that he should get rid of his everyday tools and attempt to express his art through new mediums.  The drawing below is a portrait of Phil Glass that came out of this challenge and has characterized some of his most famous works.

Chuck Close is definitely a big C creative; he revolutionized the world of art and has helped to popularize the photorealism genre.  His creative process is very serious and slow.  He starts with a huge canvas and make slow single marks/brushes in order to create such exact interpretations of photographs.  Close relies heavily on the metaphor of the artistic grid.  He uses it to describe his artistic process. In his opinion, the grid makes sense as a metaphor because he believes that everything in art and the world is the sum of different parts.  This is why Close's process is so based around calculated steps and accuracy.  Every mark he makes is just part of the grid which connects to make the whole image.

The canvases he used are even huge in comparison to another human (as you can see in the picture above). The grid system is almost necessary to keep the drawing so exact at such a large scale. In December of 1988, Close's art underwent a drastic change. Close suffered a seizure and was paralyzed from the neck down.  Since that da,y Close has had to rely on a wheel chair and can no longer paint to his full potential. Being the big C creative that he is Close did not allow this to deter him.  He now paints with a brush that he straps to his arm. In order to mimic his past works and style, Close paints small pixels that from afar appear as photorealism. Only a true artist like Chuck Close could come back from full body paralysis and still make an impact on the world.
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1 comment:

  1. Chuck Close is truly an inspiration. The fact that despite him having Prosopagnosia, he is still able to paint such realistic portraits shows that he has pure creative talent. At first glance I couldn't believe that he painted those pictures they looked so realistic. He is a master at shadow effects and really proves to be a Big-C creative genius.


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