Feb 13, 2011

Artist of the Day: Chuck Close

Chuck Close is an American artist known for his photorealistic paintings. If you've ever taken a college art history course that deals with the last half of the last century, you are probably familiar with this image:

One amazing thing about this image is that it ISN'T a photograph. It's paint! He was one of the first artists to really go in this direction of super real paintings that emulate photography.

Another amazing thing?

Chuck Close is face blind.

He doesn't recognize faces.

I learned this from this podcast from Radiolab.

What he does is map out a flattened image of a face in a grid, creating sort of a landscape. The features of this landscape eventually become a highly realistic picture of a face.

A couple more examples:

Also - he was on The Colbert Report.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Chuck Close
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogMarch to Keep Fear Alive

His work is an amazing technical achievement. While I'm not in love with this particular style/movement, I admire that Close has overcome so much adversity to become such an accomplished and well-known artist.

Not only is he face-blind, he's also dyslexic. He still can't count without the visual aid of a domino.

When he was 11, his father died, his mother got breast cancer, his grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and he developed a debilitating kidney infection.

He moved past all this to later graduate from the University of Washington as well as Yale. He went on to earn acclaim for his portraiture.

At 49, he suffered a blood clot in his spinal cord.

This made him a quadriplegic. He completely lost the use of his limbs.

But Close, being the determined bad ass that he is, apparently demanded his dying muscles to work again.

He stills paints.

Now his paintings look like this:

I actually like these better. But I'm a sucker for abstraction.

info from here