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White Gray Black

Chuck Close (American, born 1940)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

American painter and printmaker. He studied (1960–65) at the University of Washington, Seattle, at Yale University and at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna. During this period he painted biomorphic abstract works, influenced by the avant-garde American art of the previous two decades. After a brief experiment with figurative constructions, he began copying black-and-white photographs of a female nude in colour on to canvas. After abandoning this approach he used a black-and-white palette, which resulted in the 6.7 m long Big Nude (1967–8; artist’s col., see Lyons and Storr, p. 14). Finding this subject too ‘interesting’, he turned to neutral, black-and-white head-and-shoulder photographs as models, which he again reproduced in large scale on canvas, as in Self-portrait (1968; Minneapolis, MN, Walker A. Cent.). He incorporated every detail of the photograph and allowed himself no interpretative freedom. Working from photographs enabled him to realize the variations in focus due to changing depth of field, something impossible when working from life. He continued in the black-and-white style until 1970, when he began to use colour again. With a similarly limited range of model photographs, he experimented with various types of colour marking. The pencil and ink Robert/104,072 (1973–4; New York, MOMA), for example, is made from 104,072 separate colour squares. Other techniques included the use of fingerprint marks and pulp paper fragments. This concern with modes of representation links him to conceptual art as well as, more obviously, to Photorealism. For the colour paintings such as Linda (1975–6; Akron, OH, A. Mus.) he used acrylic, ink and watercolour among other media, and built the works up using only cyan, magenta and yellow, thus imitating mechanical reproduction techniques. Close also made occasional prints, such as the mezzotint Keith/Mezzotint (1972; see Lyons and Storr, p. 162). In the 1980s he worked with handmade papers and also produced images pieced together from huge polaroid photographs, such as Bertrand II (1984; artist’s col., see Lyons and Storr, pp. 156–7).


From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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