Chuck Close: Theory and Practice
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Chuck Close: Theory and Practice

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  • Detail of “Self Portrait, 2000” by Chuck Close.ASK students if anyone knows the artist who created the work.If any students are familiar with Close, ask them to abstain from answering early questions… State that they will be very helpful in discussing more theory related questions further down the line as they have had more time to think about his work.
  • (have image projected as students enter the room… it is to be used for the entrance ticket)
  • What does this translate to in art terms?
  • What do we mean by “Form” and “Content”?
  • 1) Elements of Art:Tetxure,Form (here, dimensionality),Line,Color,Value,Shape2) Principles of Design: Unity, Harmony, Contrast, Repetition (rhythm, pattern), Variety (alternation) Emphasis (dominance or focal point), Balance, Proportion (scale), Functionality, Proximity,Lighting coloration, Design methods.
  • 1) Elements of Art:Tetxure,Form (here, dimensionality),Line,Color,Value,Shape2) Principles of Design: Unity, Harmony, Contrast, Repetition (rhythm, pattern), Variety (alternation) Emphasis (dominance or focal point), Balance, Proportion (scale), Functionality, Proximity,Lighting coloration, Design methods.
  • Let’s look at one of Close’s most famous works,“Big Self-Portrait,” (108 x 84”)DISCUSS QUESTIONS FROM ENTRANCE TICKET, BUILD UPON THEM AS STUDENTS LEARN (part. When they find out it is a PAINTING!)FORM:At first glance, what materials do you think Close used? (i.e. What medium is it?)What style is it in?How would he go about making such a painting?CONTENT:What kind of effect does the image have on the viewer? (Remember scale…)What emotion/attitude do you read from the subject’s expression?How do you draw such a conclusion? Think of the physical aspects of the subject– body language, self-presentation, position in relation to the viewer…
  • …to give an idea of scale… Close with his portrait of Phillip Glass.
  • Maquette: Creating a work by separating into grid, drawing each bit in separation rather than drawing outlines, building image as a whole… Mechanical Process…LINK TO PHOTOREALISTS.
  • Richard Estes
  • Tom Blackwell
  • John Salt
  • AT THIS POINT, have students pull out their own photographs (printed and pre-gridded from previous class) and receive a gridded piece of paper. Students will spend approx 30 minutes working in Close’s method, drawing the image piece by piece.After 30 mins, ask a few questions: how is working in this way different from drawing in a more conventional manner? What is your relationship to the image… do you feel more connected to the subject through closely paying attention to minute details, or do you feel distanced due to the systematic nature of the process? Many artists would create a far more ‘realistic portrait’ through drawing in this manner; we all have biases that go into our drawings (for example, most artists have tendencies, for instance, to unconsciously incorporate elements of their own likeness into any face they draw…). Does it matter that the approach is less expressive if the overall image has an emotional impact?
  • Chuck says… (read quote)Mechanical process is OK if the end result resonates...Reacting to?
  • REACTION TO ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISTS: Gesture was the focus. Figure highly abstracted or not present at all. Who is this artist? What is his process? How does this effect the CONTENT of his work?Jackson Pollock AND Chuck Close are linked in their emphasis on process, though the way they work is highly different…(opposites, really)
  • “Art loves limits”… every time you go to make a work, you have to start with assumptions about what the work will and will not include (in terms of form and content).LINK TO MINIMALISTS
  • (SolLeWitt cube modules…)Idea of repetitive, simple elements, strong self-imposed rules linked to a concurrent art movement, MINIMALISM. LeWitt uses the simple form of a cube to build a variety of structures & exhibits them together… they act as permutations, a display of possibilities.Close, however, uses these ideas for the more traditional route of figurative drawing/painting/printmaking
  • Pressed pulp “Robert I” 1982Close, however, uses these ideas for the more traditional route of figurative drawing/painting/printmaking(What does this look like to us today???... Pixels)
  • With this definition in mind, can Chuck Close’s work be viewed as Conceptual Art as well? Why or why not?
  • Tapestry– Computer weaves the photograph. Idea is executed by a machine.
  • This idea seems to hold up with all the work we have looked at thus far… But what about his more recent direction in painting? Is he contradicting himself???
  • Discuss new “look” of paintings, change of process, new physical limitations due to paralysis
  • (work seen mid-process)Is he allowing emotion and expression into this work?(Maybe… abstraction does not always imply personal expression!)
  • Similar to others, but a woodcut (does this change the meaning?)
  • Discussion about next class’ museum visit.Who has been to an art museum before?- Why do you think art museums exist? We will be looking at ORIGINAL works of art rather than reproductions. How do the two differ? Why is it important to see originals rather than reproductions?Instruct student to…Keep an open mind! Remember what your personal definitions of “Art” are, but don’t let them hinder your exploration. I don’t want to hear constant utterings of “that’s not art!” If you feel that way about a work, think WHY you believe it isn’t art; we’ll have time to discuss our visit and works we encountered the class following the field trip.Participate in group discussion! The museum docent (tour guide) will ask you questions throughout. Don’t be afraid; give your best answer! You’re encouraged to ask pertinent questions as well.Go over itinerary/ Protocol.
  • We will discuss these processes more in depth at the museum as we look at individual pieces.

Chuck Close: Theory and Practice Chuck Close: Theory and Practice Presentation Transcript

  • “The way you chose to do something is as important as what you choose to do…”
    - Chuck Close
  • “The way you chose to do something is as important as what you choose to do…”
    - Chuck Close
    FORM = CONTENT
  • THE HOW: FORM
    Elements of Art
    Principles of Design
    Physical materials used in a work’s creation.
  • THE HOW: FORM
    Elements of Art
    Principles of Design
    Physical materials used in a work’s creation.
    THE WHAT: CONTENT
    What an artist intends to portray
    What an artist actually portrays
    How viewers react, as individuals, to both the intended and actual messages.
  • ““If you do your job right, if you do it one bit at a time, you end up with something that has emotional impact without having to resort to emotional gestures.” - Chuck Close
  • “I wanted a stupid, inarticulate, uninteresting mark, that in and of itself could not be more interesting than the last work or more beautiful than the next… It was about the imposition of rigorous, self-imposed limitations that seemed to open doors.”
  • “In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”
    - Sol LeWitt
  • ““If you do your job right, if you do it one bit at a time, you end up with something that has emotional impact without having to resort to emotional gestures.” - Chuck Close
  • Works by Close at VMFA: Mediums
    Painting
    Photograph
    Screenprint
    Woodcut
    Etching
    Tapestry
    Unconventional methods
    Use of fingerprints
    Pulp “drawings”