Chuck Close

May 30, 2012

Painter, photographer, and printmaker Chuck Close has mastered the art of intimate portraiture and continues to experiment with emerging technology to obtain photo realist perfection. From paintings, photographs, prints, and now tapestries, each medium has inherent strengths that Close uses to capture his iconic imagery. Close begins by meticulously painting minute images onto a grid, resulting in massive mosaic portraits that sometimes take up to two years to complete. He then works closely with master printers to produce works through a variety of methods, including lithography, woodblock etching, aquatinting, and linoleum cut printing. In the 1970s and 80s, he achieved early success with portraits of himself, friends, and family that were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1973), the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1980), and the Art Institute of Chicago (1989). Countless exhibitions later, he continues to be one of the most influential and innovative portrait artists of our time.

In 2006, Close began working with the Jacquard weaving process, essentially the Pointillism of tapestry. Based on the primary and intermediary color wheel invented by the 19th century French chemist, Michel Eugene Chevreul, this intricate weaving process relies on a regular ocular occurrence, “simultaneous contrast.” Chevreul realized that the perceived color of a thread is dependent upon its surrounding threads. It is the same phenomenon used in television and computer displays, as well as many of Close’s portraits that utilize fingerprints, dots, and minute brush strokes. According to Nick Stone at Magnolia Editions, Close’s hand-woven Self-Portrait (2006) “incorporates a fusion of methods separated by over two hundred years: the lyricism and nearly infinite detail of a nineteenth-century photographic technique and an innovative, digitally driven approach to weaving.”

Stone, Nick. Chuck Close: Tapestries. Oakland: Magnolia Editions, 2009. Print.
“Timeline.” Chuck Close: Process and Collaboration. Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston, 2003. Web. 1 May 2012.

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