Chuck Close

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Last updated: June 22, 2019

Chuck Close’s Self-Portrait* (1967-1968) In this paper I will explore critically on Chuck Close’s Self-Portrait* (1967-1968). I will begin by describing and display the significance of this piece. I chose Chuck Close’s Self-Portrait* (1967-1968), as my thesis image, this work is an example of the excellent superealism and photorealism that Chuck Close is capable of and known for. In the first stage of his painting career, he did a lot of abstract paintings and later he focused on new ways to portray the human figure, since 1964.His work was superealistic and gigantic in size featuring atypical art subjects with empty facial expressions.

In this huge self portrait he catches every tiny detail of his face, the mussy hair, the shadow that hair created on his forehead, the cigarette, the smog of the cigarette, the mole on his neck, and the reflection on his glassed. He highlights details even a camera would not capture. This self-portrait is 263? 213cm, almost 10 times bigger than his body.I think mostly people don’t see themselves in this size, and more important that they don’t face them self through painting, this unique way and let other people define your identity. The sheer scale and meticulous attention to his body has a profound impact on the viewer, the viewer is under his watching, covered by him. His facial features are removed from the familiar and made into something to be confronted by. Through this paper I attempt to conceive and illustrate a compelling interpretation of Chuck Close’s self-portrait through the lens of body art.I will define the idea of body art while considering the writings of Ewa Lajer-Burcharth’s article.

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I will also examine and compare the Chuck Close’s self-portrait with Gary Hill’s video Inasmuch as it is always already taking place , Cindy Sherman’s photography , and Mona Hatoum’s Corps Etrange from the view of body art. In this paragraph I will present the basic characters and artful differences between super realism and body art.As the traditional realism art, viewers suppose to understand and read from the narrative realistic drawing, no matter from the landscape or human portrait, artists suppose to lay out a particular type of emotion or atmosphere for viewer to trace the clue, or more directly reveal the whole story. When it comes to super realism, artists refuse to reveal any subjective and emotional from the highly resemblance painting that viewers barely trace any clues from the piece. hen I stood in front of Chuck Close’s painting in the Milwaukee At museum, I felt very oppressive and even a little scary, the reason why is because despite through all realistic physical displaying, the lack of emotion and the coldness of the huge portrait still merely present the flesh body, I don’t think I will define the human figure is Chuck Close, but more likely to be a body. For as much as when we discuss the term of “person”, we will mainly cover not only the biological body feature, more important are personality, character.

Meanwhile, as a development or continue during the period of postmodernism, body art emerge as a particular uncanny anti-me defamiliarize of human body to force us to “scan” ourselves in a whole new way and confront ourselves on a totally different position, instead of just using mirror as the medium, body art provide a more various and imaginative stage for us, to step out from the “illusion” or “inveracious me” through diverse method, postion relation and spacial connection.The reason why I interpreted Chuck Close’s hyper realism painting through the lens of body art, is I consider they share the same quality and feature on avoiding personal emotion and defamiliarize person’s body, meanwhile, disorientating and rediscover ourselves. I will articulate this idea from the aspect of composition (the inner relation and recreation), media (format technique), and stylization. Rosalind Krauss once said that, “the structure of video installation as based on a psychological situation of “self-encapsulation”, which turned both the body and psyche into its own surround, cutting it off from any external object.

A sense of spatial enclosure was accompanied in external practices by temporal collapsing of both past and future into a sandwich of present moment. ”1 I can’t deny that the method of Chuck Close’s portrait is different from the video installation that Rosalind Krauss discussed above, at the same time as I address and interpreted his hyper realism portrait into body art, the painting to me is no longer just a painting.In other words, Chuck Close normally spend 4~14 months on each painting, but how long will take for a person normally look into the mirror? 1 minute? Or even just seconds? The painting and even the whole processes of painting rendering constructing to me, have already become a continues activity and transformation. Most figures that he draws are his close friends who are familiar with; he knows their personality, and their behavior even their psychological features.At the same time, through his painting, he not only empty model’s emotion and defamiliarlize their body, but also cutting off his who feeling, there is no sign, no preference, the painting is not about beauty or any purposes. I consider this is the situation that Krauss called “self-encapsulation”.

During this long time recreation, he deconstructs and converts himself into numbers of details; working on the body he should be very familiar with parts by parts, even reconsider different part of his face rather shapes and color, than organ (nose, mouth, eyes…

. The simple copy and mimicry interminable process stretches the body, finally cause the whole piece loses the meaning of “portrayal real people”. Gary Hill: In as Much as It Is Always Already Taking Place* 1990 At the same time, considering Gary Hill’s Inasmuch as it is always already taking place, according to Hill’s vision of the body, “a presence unformed by an absence” 2, Hill framed “separate, almost abstract shapes and textures” 3 of body into different fragment and display them in a limit space.

Comparing to Hill’s video, Chuck relays on the particular method –painting to confront and block himself, this stable, unchangeable and also massive portrait seems block the past and prevent future, forcing you to step yourself out from the daily life, from the imagination that you create by yourself and even your logical thinking, emotional feeling, personal experience, Ultimately exposal the reality of the flesh body. Mona Hatoum: Corps Etranger (Foreign Body)*1994 Furthermore, I will define and disorienting and reconfiguration by the example of Mona Hatoum’s Corps Etranger.As Ewa Ljer-Burcharth mentioned in his article, “Hatoum make you step inside of” 4. Mona Hatoum does not only change the way we survey ourselves (from the exterior facial appearance to anatomical aspect), but also the perspective to perceive. We seem like floating on ourselves, jumping out from the illusion, like what Ewa Ljer-Burcharth said, “it is a disturbing work, difficult to watch…the “Corps Etranger” sets up an unsettling dialogue between one’s sense of one’s own body and one’s sense of the self…inviting one to come to terms with the otherness within oneself. ” Talking to Chuck Close’s portrait, I would define he disorienting and confusion reduce to the size and the over realistic technique.

The regular portrait normally should be the same size as human figure, for Close, he suddenly maximum and extend the “normal people” the normal image we perceive and construct every day into a giant object, we become different person and stand on the “viewer’s” position to confront ourselves, in other words , more likely observe an object. We are enlarged and exposure every blemish by the size and hyper realism style truly and impassively, all facts become over realistic, even to the extent of fakeness.Till now, I can’t stop wondering, when we try so hard to express and attempt the highly resemblances, for instance Chuck close used almost all the techniques, (acrylic, oil, pencil, spray painting, photo projector and various ways to draw,) as such Cindy Sherman (Cindy Sherman: Untitled* 1983), she leave no stone unturned to dress up like somebody else, set up particular background or circumstance to set off the identity of the figure, turns out just one and another died, flesh body, empty object.

Yet I do think, to some extent both Chuck Close and Cindy Sherman provide and led us into a condition, which make us to examine “is that still the same me ? ” Through the lens of body art, the interpretation indeed illuminate my cognition on Chuck Close’s hyper realism painting, I understand deeper and more profoundly engaging with the media (format technique), composition (the inner relation and recreation), and stylization of Chuck Close. To me, this piece reveals a totally new and fresh meaning to me.B I B L I O G R A P H Y 1. Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, “Real Bodies: Video in the 1990s,” in Art History, vol.

20, no. 2 (June 1997) Page-186 2. & 3. Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, “Real Bodies: Video in the 1990s,” in Art History, vol. 20, no. 2 (June 1997) page 191 4.

Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, “Real Bodies: Video in the 1990s,” in Art History, vol. 20, no. 2 (June 1997) page 200-201


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