Friday, May 07, 2010

Worth A Close Look

As I commonly bemoan the lack of living, museum-quality fine artists (like I did here), I feel compelled to highlight someone I consider an exception.

Chuck Close, who spoke last night at a lecture at the Art Institute of Chicago which I didn't attend because it was sold out from the time I heard about it, has been creating museum-showcased paintings since the late-'60s. And two month shy of his 70th birthday, he still is, all the more incredible for the fact that he has been severely paralyzed and wheelchair-bound since 1988.

Almost exclusively a portraitist, Close initially created super-realistic paintings of people--including himself, at right in 1967-68--that casual observers likely assume are photographs.

After a catastrophic spinal artery collapse left him paralyzed from the neck down in December 1988 (Wikipedia), Close has continued to paint on with a brush strapped onto his wrist with tape, creating large portraits in low-resolution grid squares. With the individual grid designs resulting in detailed portraits when viewed from a distance, he was forced to take his art in an exciting new, yet clearly connective, direction. (And in my mind, he presaged Photomosaics, which Robert Silvers popularized years later).

Close himself has seemingly become his favorite subject matter, and his works are still in demand by museums and high-end collectors. I'll include a few below; you can find more through here and here, and can see a number of clips about Chuck Close and his work on YouTube.

John, 1971-72

Leslie, 1973

Keith, 1970

Bob, 1970

Lucas, 1987
(If this date is right, perhaps the grid-style predated Close's paralysis)

Alex, 1991

John, 1998

Close-up of Right Eye from painting at top of article

Close at work

Self-Portrait, 2007

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