Monday, September 18, 2006

More Close (Closer?)

I first heard of Chuck Close just last Christmas, when I wandered into the San Francisco MOMA. It was a very impressive exhibit in a world class museum that left me wondering why I had never heard of this intriguing and distinctive portrait artist. Needless to say, I was surprised to see this painting in a private collector's home this past weekend:
Portrait of Merce Cunningham
The scale is difficult to appreciate here, but the painting is about 6 x 9 feet! You can't even see the detail of each cell from this distance (I was only standing about 15 feet from the painting). What is most amazing to me is that Chuck's entire life work appears to consist of a gazillion variations on this same theme and technique, that is to say all of his portraits are done grid by grid, cell by cell. Some in black and white, some color. Some painted, some made of dyed hand made paper plugged into mesh or wire, and every medium in between. I really like the finished products, but can't help but think there's some serious OCD going on here...I mean, 40 years he's been doing basically the same thing!

If you have a chance to see an exhibit of his work, I encourage you to do so.


At 6:43 AM, September 19, 2006, Blogger beth said...

I've seen a number of things like this but they're portraits made of other portraits - if that makes sense? Wonder if this is a new "school of thought" in the art world. Anyway, it's kinda cool. But where do you hang a 6x9 foot painting?

At 9:05 AM, September 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i guess some people get a trademark look, and they just stick with it. maybe he hates change.....

At 7:02 PM, September 19, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Beth, I've seen that done too...I'm thinking this guy took a little too much acid in the 60's and maybe started the "school of thought." It's odd that it looks like flesh tones from here, but in reality, each cell is made up mostly of fruit flavored colors.

And this particular home was about 18,000 sq feet and designed to display their art (a lot of extra interior walls, display shelves, etc.) was truly a personal museum, not a home I could imagine living in.

Susie, it's definitely a trademark and a compulsion. What's kind of odd is that when he became a quadraplegic, that didn't even change his style (he just continued painting with a brush between his teeth) was almost like his life work was designed for someone with his disability...strange.


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