Welcome to the Springfield Township High School Art Blog. The purpose of this forum is to inspire discourse surrounding your artistic experiences while building writing skills, exercising your art vocabulary, and refining descriptive language relating to art. In your writing, you may choose to discuss museum and gallery exhibitions, publications, articles, professional works, student works, or responses to each other’s ideas and investigations. Additionally, participants may want to pose questions or react to artistic predicaments, sharing the trials, frustrations, solutions, or the general excitement we feel when we make or look at art.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Chuck Close Portrait Work

While babysitting this evening, I stumbled upon a book containing the paintings of Chuck Close from 1968-2006. Close is an artist I remember learning about in art history class, but never really felt a strong connection to. However, upon picking up this book, reading a bio, Q&A with the artist, and seeing many of his works, I fell in love with his portraits. His style is vastly complex in each of the different phases of his work, but somehow you can tell a painting belongs to him when looking at it instantly. As a lover of photography and paintings alike, I feel extremely drawn to his portrait work with photorealism.
Prior to this year, I thought photorealistic paintings were simply synonymous with photos. I appreciated the hours of work that must go into each painting to make it represent real life, but nothing stood out to me about the works. What made them so special besides the fact that many hours of tedious work went into them?  What's even the point of taking all that time, since they look so similar to real life? Upon looking at Close's work, though, my mind changed quickly. Close's photorealistic portrait series, done in primarily black and white acrylic on canvas, are stunning. What sets them apart form a world of other real-life look-alike paintings is the true rawness of Close's models. Whether or not he exaggerates their features or accessories is beyond me, but the gritty candidness captured in each character is what stands out to me. Slightly ruffled clothes, unkempt eyebrows, cigarettes hanging out the side of lips, and "Who, me?" expressions make these paintings captivating and fascinating. Close also focuses sharply on some sections of the figures, and gets so detailed in paintings like "Richard" where we can see detailed pores and every stubble of five-oclock shadow on the man's face. Only a few inches over, though, on the wrinkled leather fabric of the man's jacket, Close uses a blurred focus look, causing the viewer's eye to dance across the canvas through the fading in and out of clarity and fogginess. These paintings are not necessarily real in a sense of looking exactly like life. Their realness lies in the candid nature and natural looks of each subject. In portraits like "John" and "Leslie," the subjects stare so deeply into the viewer's side of the canvas that it's almost uncomfortable to look for a long time- it feels as if they are opening their soul for you to see, but also reciprocating an intense stare into the viewer's soul.    -Michelle

The Barnes

My most recent encounter with fine arts was not what I expected. My family and I took a trip downtown to the Barnes foundation and I found it to be somewhat disappointing. In my imagination, I pictured the inside of the Barnes to be wild and crazy with paintings practically on top of each other, with a rustic look to the rooms as if they were old and falling apart. At least, I expected the rooms to have a bit more character and look less like a museum. I had heard that the Barnes was originally located in Dr. Barnes’ house and moved to Philadelphia. I could not imagine what I saw to be an actual comfortable home with all the distracting exit signs and labels. It seemed a little too fake to me. I guess this is how his house was before but it just seemed a bit boring to me. All the impressionists’ paintings didn’t really excite me either. But I guess I am not to judge this, because this is what the museum was all about. But a few pieces really caught my eye and stuck with me.   I was introduced to Chaim Soutine. His work had a spooky, twisted look to it making his figures look like they came out of a horror film. The way he distorted his portraits almost mocked the realistic paintings surrounding his. It made me realize that you don’t need to paint a portrait realistically to excite the audience. The rough paint strokes he used, added an awesome texture and aided the distortion of the figures in his pictures. His rough texture contrasted the smooth Renoirs hanging nearby. I would be a little more interested in the Barnes if more Soutine works were shown.