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

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