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Spotlight Artist: #5 Chuck Close (b. 1940) Photorealism

Chuck Close

Big Self Portrait

1967 - 1968

Acrylic on canvas

8’ 11” x 6’ 2”

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis


"...Big Self-Portrait, a watershed painting that virtually showcases Close's unique method. Abandoning the full-body view, Close turned to one of the oldest traditions anywhere in art history, the self-portrait. Close had partially set out to refute the critic Clement Greenberg's claim that it was impossible for an "advanced" artist to work in portraiture. Closes's untraditional approach involved conceiving of and creating a unique kind of "mug shot," a black-and-white idiom that exacerbated the subject's blemishes and the original photographic distortion caused by the camera. The devotion to the idea of an unsparing, head-on view led him to refuse all commissions, as Close used only his own "mug" and that of close friends for his subjects."


Read/view the following resources and take good notes:


Video - Watch these prior to answering essential questions.

Essential Questions -

AFTER CAREFULLY REVIEWING THE RESOURCES ASSIGNED ABOVE: Answer the following questions completely and with specificity to the provided resources, notes taken, personal reflection, and additional research as needed. Make sure to consider how this information is relevant to your current work and practice.

1. Close has painted portraits for decades. Why/how has he not gotten bored with that same subject?

2. You are always encouraged to be original - to think for yourself - not to copy others' ideas. But you are also encouraged to know the art that has come before you. Close copied the work of Willem de Kooning directly, over and over. Why is this an accepted practice? What did he learn from making copies?

3. Limitations encourage creativity. What limitations did Close put upon himself in order to strengthen his creative process and growth as an artist?


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