2 Enduring Understanding Through the study of these artworks,students discover:1.Why naturalism is selected as a means of expression.2.How artists use the mechanism of realistic representation to realise its purpose and function.
3 Essential Questions Overarching Questions 1. What are the criteria for a realistic artwork?2. How do artists use realistic representation to express their artistic intentions?3. How do artists use realistic representation as a mechanism to express social issues?Topical Questions1. How is the subject matter in the artwork being represented?2. Which artist is more successful in using realistic representation to express social issues?3. Which artist is more successful in depicting a high level of technical skill?
5 Keywords Photographic Super-realism Portraits Magnified Large scale GridsFinger-painting/Printmaking/Collage
6 Big Self Portrait, 1968.Acrylic on canvas, 273 x 212 cm
7 Important events which influenced his life and artworks WhenImportant events which influenced his life and artworks
8 WhenScholarship to Yale Summer School of Music and Art in Norfolk, Connecticut in 1961Unconventional approach to teaching (eg. Drawing with long sticks dipped in ink)It gave him the opportunity to visit New York art galleries and museumsPop artists were on the rise ( s)Turn to photographic imagery as sources
10 WhereUSAAbstract Expressionism and American advertising such as the billboards triggered an interest in large scale works in the 50s and 60s.However, Abstract Expressionism began to wane by 1967, though Minimalism and Pop Art were still very much alive.
12 Which Photorealism- by Artlex Photo-Realism is used to describe a movement (late 1960s to the 1970s) rather than the approach or technique.A realistic painting approach that includes the reproduction of details. Photographs are usually used as a reference.As a result, the painting looks almost photographic.It refers to a type of illusionism also known as super-realism.Some other artists- Duane Hanson and Richard Estes.
13 What Subject Matters Portraits Biomorphic Abstracts – Grid paintings Human figures
14 What Subject Matter- Portraits His aim was to achieve an “all-over, frontal, two-dimensional effect within the parameters of representational art.” (Finch, 2007, p.42).He wanted to create works that are also less overtly emotional.The poses of his models and himself- objective and emotionless, as if taking a photograph for the passport.He only paints portraits of people who were close to him (eg. friends and family)¹ Clement Greenberg-
15 What Subject Matter - Biomorphic Abstracts In 1978 onwards, he began to work with dots, using fingertip in place of the airbrush.He also created portraits with “evenly-spaced grid of plump lusciously-pigmented dots over a warm flesh-tinted ground” and to mute the impact, he filled in these dots with “smaller dabs of colour”. (Finch, 2007, p. 155)Sometimes, these dots are stretched into an oval shape.Then, the small circles slowly gave way to diamond and lozenge shapes.¹ Clement Greenberg-
16 How Uses grids as the underlying basis for his works. He draws the grid onto the primed canvas to ensure accuracy of copying from each square of the grid.He uses brushes, sponges, rags and an airbrush to lay down paint in thin transparent layers.Mimic the mechanical quality of a photographHe uses various kinds of blades and electric eraser to scrape the paint off in order to reveal more white underneath.He was intending to achieve “an all-over effect in which every part of the canvas had equal importance.
17 How Material Techniques brushes, sponges, rags and airbrush blades and electric eraserTechniquesgrid on primed canvaspaint in thin transparent layersscrape the paint off in order to reveal more white underneath
18 Black and White Heads Big Self Portrait, 1968. Acrylic on canvas, 273 x 212 cm
19 What- Big Self-Portrait An element of chance precedes this work.He was taking pictures of himself, stripped to the waist because he was still exploring the idea of the nude and thought of the head as a detail of the nude.His intention was to work from images that are not saturated with subjective information, the photograph however suggests a “heck-care” attitude.The black and white colour scheme was intended to emphasise the photographic origin of the image.Again, it’s a work meant to be viewed in close range. Every detail in this way, has been magnified much in a way when things are viewed under a microscope.
21 Black and White Heads(a) Describe the subject matter in this work. (Ans below in the text box)This is a monochromatic and photorealistic portrait by Chuck Close of his friend Frank. This portrait is larger-than-life size and mimics a photograph blurring the reality between painting and photography. The highly focused and detailed image draws viewers to inspect the artwork at a closer range. This portrait of “Frank” has an unemotional countenance about him. Frank is looking straight at the viewer with a blank stare and unsmiling. This is a common trait among most of Chuck Close’s past portraits. “Frank” represents a formal picture where you would normally find in a passport. The shadows, creases, wrinkles and highlights on “Frank’s” face further emphasise the photorealism of the work. The shadows gives a 3-dimensional effect and the tight composition of this portrait draws emphasis on the details of this face. Creating an “invisible border” around “Frank”. Close explores the functions of the camera by blurring some areas and focusing on others. This can be seen from “Frank’s” left ear and the tips of his hair which is blurry in contrast to his right ear is highly focused. Other parts that are highly focused are his glasses, eyes, nose and mouth. This painting is psychologically charged because of the cool unemotional countenance of the subject matter. This is demonstrated through “Frank’s” oversized head, with occasionally bulging eyes, stare out of the canvas with a sort of detached presence. “Frank” is an image which looked seemingly instantaneously reproduced by a Polaroid camera. A painter and a photographer, Close is a builder who, in his own words, builds painting experiences for the viewer.Frank, 1969Acrylic on canvas,274 x 213 cm
22 (b) How is this painting photorealistic? Black and White Heads(b) How is this painting photorealistic?TIP: Look at ‘How’. This refers to the technique of how the artist paints the portrait in a photorealistic manner?(Ans below in the text box)Close begin the painting process he took a photograph of “Frank”. Close carefully transfer his image onto a canvas or other surfaces using the grid method. Using the grids, Close enlarges the photograph to its larger-than-life size portrait accurately. He can closely copy / plot the image by units onto the grids all the details of the face to make a photorealistic portrait. Chuck Close used various tools such as airbrush, rags, razor blades and eraser to aid him in his work. He meticulously builds his images by painting in thousand of tiny airbrush bursts in thin transparent layers. He uses various kinds of blades and electric eraser to scrape the paint off in order to reveal more white underneath. Close worked from two marquette, each an enlargement of a photograph squared off to accommodate a grid consisting of 546 squares. The first marquette is attached to a sheet of cardboard with masking tape and the other is a montage (mosaic) of four different prints, each quadrant comprising each quarter of his face. The first marquette was printed slightly darker in order for him to see the lighter detail. The canvas was prepared with a dozen coats of gesso, each coat being sanded down before the next application. Close diluted his paints and started working on the upper portions of the face first followed by the rest. As he builds the layers he increased the intensity and concentration of the paints. The highlights are created by removing the paint using razor blades and electric eraser. Through the above elaborate processes, Close created a highly accurate / precise photorealistic portrait of “Frank” that is larger-than-life sized. His meticulousness showed off his technical ability to portray something in its stunning realistic representation.Frank, 1969Acrylic on canvas,274 x 213 cm
23 Black and White Heads Nancy, 1968. Acrylic on canvas, x 208,9 cm.
26 His Finger Paintings Phil/Fingerprint, 1979. Stamp-pad ink on paper, 76.2 x 56.2 cm
27 His Finger Paintings Fanny/Finger painting, 1985. Oil-based ink on canvas,259 x cmNational Gallery of Art, USA
28 His Grid Paintings (Biomorphic abstracts) Self-Portrait, 1997.Oil on canvas,259 x cmPrivate Collection
29 Using Dots Lucas II, 1997. Oil on canvas, 91.4 x 76.2 cm This is painted in a concentric circle structure. It appears to have spokes extending from the center- which creates a collective energy at the center as this same energy diminishes to the edge.
30 His Prints Keith/Mezzotint, 1972. Mezzotint on paper, 130.8 x cm.
31 His Prints - (based on his biomorphic abstracts) What is silkscreen?(Go and research on it)Lyle, 2002.147-colour silkscreen, x cm
32 His Prints (based on his biomorphic painting) See text box below for theFeldman AnalysisWhat is Japanese woodcut?Description:Portrait of little girl entitled Emma, done 2002 by Chuck Close.Done in 113-colour Japanese style ukiyo-e woodcut, measuring at 109.2cm x 88.9cmOne close-up view of baby’s head.Toddler’s head, neck and a bit of her shoulders- resembles passport photoTip of nose and hairs at the back of head out of the focusWhite and red striped t-shirtBig round turquoise eyes, toddler smilingHead of the toddler occupies almost the whole area of canvasHead slightly tilted to viewer’s rightNarrow foreheadAnalysis:Vibrant coloursTight space surrounding subject matter.Shallow space- flat background without the use of perspective.Surface of canvas broken up- movement, pixilated.Colours advance towards viewer, more glaring than Chua’s- greater intensity of colours.The colours looked pure form i.e. straight from tube without mixing e.g. red, blue.Diagonal grids- effect from far, portrait of Emma look somewhat alive- spot infinite combinations of organic shapes and coloursMagnified child’s head from photo- many times larger than the actual child’s head.Interpretation:Fuzzy, energized and heart warming mood due to Emma’s heartwarming smile and the youthful eyes. Adorable.Appears to be charged with energy and activity. Due to vibrant colours, movement created by overlapping organic shapes.Organic shapes placed within every square of grid; close distance makes it look abstract piece of work.Evaluation:Energizing, heart-warming moodBroken outline of head, look less rigidFull of playful energy generated by the small forms within each lozengeRelates to the child’s adorable and playful smile and cheerful eyes.FormalismRelatively flat picture planeGridded structureFocus on the overlapping of coloured shapesWhen viewed individually each cell that makes up the painting becomes its own discrete work of abstract art.Similar in concept to the technique used by the Impressionists and Pointillists, when the work is seen from a distance it dissolves into a recognizable image.Emma, 2002.123-colour Japanese woodcut, x 88.9 cm
34 Why His Background- His Early Years Close decided that he wanted to be an artist at the age of four/five.As an only child, his mother encouraged him to fill his solitude with creative activities.His father was an adroit (skillful) toy maker- something that might have influenced Close in his great respect for skills.It was his father who sent him to learn art from a woman with solid academic knowledge, whom they have met in a diner, for a period of over two years.
35 Why His Background- His Early Years Close was subjected to the rigour of still-life painting, landscapes en plein air and figure drawing lessons.He used to analyze and imitate the works of illustrators for magazines like the Collier’s and the Saturday Evening Post.
36 Why His Background- His Early Years He suffered from a neuromuscular condition since he was very young and compensated the incapacity in sports with art.He is also dyslexic when he was discovered in school to be forming letters that are mirrored or upside-down.He learnt to break information down to smaller bits and reassemble them into a whole that turned out to be a fresh synthesis.
37 Why His Background- His Early Years Close also discovered that he suffers from prosopagnosia- a condition that prevents him from recognizing faces as a result of a malfunction in a certain area of the brain.Today, he accredits the condition for his artistic interest in the mechanics of pictorialism.
38 Mohandas Gandhi, June 1947 cover. WhyHis Influence- Time Magazine IllustratorsHe admires artists for Time covers such as Ernest Hamlin Baker and Boris Chaliapin.¹The “real” pictures here could mean art that is rendered naturalistically.Bob Hope, Sept 1943 cover.by Ernest Hamlin BakerTIME MagazineMohandas Gandhi, June 1947 cover.by Boris ChaliapinTIME Magazine
39 Enamel on gesso on paper, 575 x 784 mm WhyHis Influence- Jackson PollockHe was also astonished with Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings when his mother took him to Seattle Art Museum, expecting to see “real” pictures¹. This transgression (overstepping boundary) was beginning to appeal to him.Number 23, 1948Enamel on gesso on paper, 575 x 784 mm
40 Why His Influence- Willem de Kooning He was also drawn to the figures of Willem de Kooning- admired his ability to transform the figurative elements into the Abstract Expressionism style.Woman I,Oil on canvas, x cm
41 Why His Influence- Sol Le Witt He came upon Sol Le Witt’s early wall drawings which took the form of grids-Modular Piece T, 1971by Sol Le WittWood painted white, 61.6 cm³
42 The Marriage of Reason and Squalor II, 1959 WhyHis Influence- Frank StellaHe was inspired by Stella’s flat, frontal and non-relational abstractions.The Marriage of Reason and Squalor II, 1959by Frank StellaEnamel on canvas, x cmMoMA, New York
43 Why Why Large Scale Works Close intended his large-scale works to be seen from close range (although he has no objection to his works being appreciated afar).He is more interested in the impact these huge works have on the audience at close range- the impossibility for them to digest the information in the conventional way (as in seeing it as a whole in one glance).For example, he wanted the audience to appreciate a female nude like a panoramic view of a landscape- shoulders become valleys and breasts become mountains.In this sense, he’s attempting to achieve an abstract or less representational form with absolute likeness.
44 Why His Background- The Event In the year 1988, Close became paralysed, neck down, after a period of intermittent attack of angina pains (also known as chest pains).He was able to paint again after seven months of rehabilitation but with restrictions to his mobility.
45 WhySummaryDyslexia led him to reassemble smaller broken down information into a new synthesisInfluenced by a myriad of artists (mainly abstract)- for his early works.Large scale to create impact at close range
47 How Materials Acrylic Oil Paper- for collage works. Pastels- Close’s fascination for pastels is due to the medium’s “purity” and “intensity”. Pastels are dry powdered pigment without addition of any other medium.Stamp-Pad InkWatercolour¹ In a live model setting, artists use techniques like foreshortening and lighting to reproduce the 3-D quality and thus bringing the subject to life. However, these techniques are not used by photo-realists because the proportion, light and shadow are already captured mechanically in a photograph and therefore what is left for the artists to do is to transfer the subject directly onto another flat material.
48 HowTechniquesUsing photographs as a reference. In this case, the camera lens has already captured the 3-D aspect of the model and reduced it into a 2-D flat representation. This produces an illusory likeness through mechanical means¹.This also allows him to “realise the variations in focus due to changing depth of field, something impossible when working from life.” (Tate)It is not an indication of inferiority or superiority but more of a difference in approach and results.¹ In a live model setting, artists use techniques like foreshortening and lighting to reproduce the 3-D quality and thus bringing the subject to life. However, these techniques are not used by photo-realists because the proportion, light and shadow are already captured mechanically in a photograph and therefore what is left for the artists to do is to transfer the subject directly onto another flat material.
49 How - Close’s Black and White Heads He worked from two *maquettes, each an enlargement of a photograph squared off to accommodate a grid consisting of 546 squares.The first marquette is attached to a sheet of cardboard with masking tape and the other is a montage (mosaic) of four different prints, each quadrant comprising each quarter of his face.The first marquette was printed slightly darker in order for him to see the lighter detail.The canvas was prepared with a dozen coats of *gesso, each coat being sanded down before the next application.*see text box below for definitions.*Maquette - A model/studies for a larger piece of artwork. Often fascinating works in their ownright, conveying the immediacy of the artist's first realisation of an idea.*Gesso (Italian: "chalk," from the Latin gypsum, from the Greek γύψος) is a white paint mixtureconsisting of a binder mixed with chalk, gypsum, pigment, or any combination of these. It is used inartwork as a preparation for any number of substrates such as wood panels, canvas and sculptureas a base for paint and other materials that are applied over it)
50 How - Black and White Heads Then, he transferred using a pencil from the photograph to the canvas, making use of the grid.Next, he used an airbrush with diluted acrylic paint to define the upper section of the image first, followed by the rest.He continued with the method, increasing the density of the pigment as he progresses.The highlights are created by removing the paint using razor blades and electric eraser.It is the same technique used by commercial artists.
51 How - Close’s Coloured Portraits He wanted his colour portraits to be consistent with the process he had used for his black and white heads.Instead of pre-mixing the colour on the palette before applying them, he uses the method of colour separations. By superimposing transparent colours of magenta, cyan and yellow upon one another on a white background, the full colour spectrum can be perceived by the eye.He thus forms the colour portraits with three very thin, transparent layers of diluted acrylic colours- magenta, cyan and yellow.
52 HowHe experimented with various types of black and white mediums- ink, pencil, pulp paper,He also experimented with various types of colour medium- acrylic, ink, watercolour, Polaroid photographs and others.He also made occasional prints using mezzotint before the “event”.However, printmaking became more and more prevalent as a medium for his works in the 1980s.Close approach to his works is driven by process.
53 How Summary Photographs as reference Using a 546-square grid system Primed canvasPencil transferAirbrush with diluted acrylic paintScrape off paint to create highlightsMethod of color separation- builds them up from cyan, magenta and yellow.
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