Cutting it Close

Strength. Amazement. Passion. Insightful. Genius.

All of those things come to mind when I come across the topic of my favorite living artist, Chuck Close.

Close attended U Washington and then Yale. He is an amazing painter. Amazing doesn’t even cover it. I’ve never seen another painter like him. Close is categorized as “hyper-realistic” and bases his works off photographs. I’ve read that he has never taken a commission for any of his paintings. He just paints people he knows.

Basically, just like Picasso, he was so good at painting that he got bored. Thus changes the art world from our generation.

“I threw away my tools”, Close said. “I chose to do things I had no facility with. The choice not to do something is in a funny way more positive than the choice to do something. If you impose a limit to not do something you’ve done before, it will push you to where you’ve never gone before.”

Not only does he paint. He creates his large scale pieces using fingerprints, handmade paper, pencils. I was able to see one of Close’s works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Also, I was highly fortunate enough to be able to attend a traveling gallery full of pieces by Close.

The trip was was awesome. Absolutely unforgettable.

Close’s huge pieces took up all the wallspace. You would turn every corner and there was another piece astounding you, grabbing you from 25 feet away. The greatest part about his artistry is being able to study the works up close. Similar to Monet, studying Close from 6 inches away and 15 feet away are equally fascinating.

Close works in a grid method, often painting in cell-like shapes that make up an overall image. The reason for this is that he suffers from Prosopagnosia, meaning he is unable to recognize faces. He started painting so he would remember faces. Ironic, right?

I have trouble remember historical facts and recipe ingredients. Somehow I don’t think if I started painting them I would have ended up with the same outcome.

But there’s another reason he works in grid-form. One day he had a seizure and become paralyzed from the neck down. To this day he works from his wheelchair and has a paintbrush strapped to his wrist.

“Although the paralysis restricted his ability to paint as meticulously as before, Close had, in a sense, placed artificial restrictions upon his hyperrealist approach well before the injury. That is, he adopted materials and techniques that did not lend themselves well to achieving a photorealistic effect. Small bits of irregular paper or inked fingerprints were used as media to achieve astoundingly realistic and interesting results.”  (Wikipedia)

If that didn’t make him ridiculous enough (Sorry, am I gushing? Probably.) Close works with an intricate layering method. Whether it’s woodcut prints being layered and layered and layered and layered (x50) or pressing thumbprint after thumbprint, the end results are anomalous and unforgettable.

Close sometimes also works in a color separation layering method. Basically that means he squints at a picture and then draws all the yellow, draws all the reds, draws all the blues and then draws all the black.

Click here to see a full color separation process. Do it!

Seriously? Seriously. It’s mindblowing.

Okay. Enough with the drooling and jaw dropping. In my opinion he is the most influential artist in our lifetime.  Alright, now I’m starting to get over-the-top. Check him out.

On a lighter, and more random note, as I’m rapidly approaching 10,000 hits (whoa!) I just want to thank everyone for stopping in and reading my ramblings and leaving your fun comments.

I’m saying this because I met an adoring fan and avid reader of Withywindle (ha-ha, okay I’m kidding. Sort of.) while the husband and I were out last night.

Like my gangsta W and W for Withywindle? Eh? Eh?

And for the record, my husband is the one who took this picture. And this guy wasn’t a total stranger. Well, I’d never met him before, but he works with Moose and, apparently and self-admittedly, is quite the fan so I promised I would post this photo he sent me.

So here’s a shout out to Jimmy, Withywindle’s #1 fan.

Images from here and here