Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In the Beginning: Chuck Close

Self-Portrait II - 2011

Chuck Close (1940 - ) is noted for his monster-size portraits. But during the years around 1960, he followed the Abstract Expressionist path that was more or less expected of "serious" art school students at that time.

Useful references: his WIkipedia entry is here, a student painting (shown below) is appraised on PBS here, and some paintings from his University of Washington days (also below) along with commentary can be found here. It seems that Close is afflicted with limited ability to recognize faces, which might account for his emphasis on portraits since the late 1960s. He became crippled due to a spinal problem in 1988, but this did not curtail his productivity.

Close interests me for two reasons. One has to do with the fact that he attained fame as a modernist / postmodernist while painting what are essentially representational images. The other is because he and I overlapped one academic year (1960-61) at the University of Washington's School of Art. We did not formally cross paths there, though it's quite possible that we might have been in the basement student coffee shop at the same time on occasion. (His specialty was painting, mine was commercial art and we were both upperclassmen at the time.)


Student work while at Everett Community College - 1960

Untitled - c. 1961-62

Blue Nude - c. 1961-62

Untitled - 1962

Photo of Close while at Yale

No comments: