Chuck Close: BOB, 1970, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Canvass * Suffered severe dyslexia and had a neuromuscular condition that prevented him from playing sport and found solace in his art * Known for his work blurring the line between photo and painting * Suffers from prosopagnosia, (face blindness) a condition which means Close cannot recognize people by their facial features in three-dimensional form. Present him with a two-dimensional portrait, photograph or painting, though, and the problem goes away. This is why he starts every portrait with a photograph. * Bob 1970 is one of a series of eight large black and white portraits that Close painted between November 1967 and April 1970. He began work on Bob in the last months of 1969 and finished at the beginning of 1970. 1 Bob immediately preceded Keith 1970 (collection of the artist),2 the last of the black and white series. Close then began using colour in his paintings. * Bob is painted from gridded photographs onto a gessoed ground using black paint applied with an airbrush to build up the dark tones.
White paint is used occasionally for the highlights but more often the black pigment is scraped back using a razorblade or an electric eraser. The subject of the painting is one of Close’s friends, Robert Israel, a New York based opera designer. Israel later recalled: I had wanted Chuck to ask me to pose for him, but I really didn’t feel it was proper for me to ask. Chuck’s decision of who he would paint had to do not only with whether you were a friend, but with the topology of your face.
And I didn’t really think it was my business to ask him if I could pose. * He discourages any kind of forced expression and just tries to capture the sitter in their most exposed unflattering state. * Contrast is very important and well utilized in BOB. * The focal point is around the eyes and highlight on the glasses. * It doesn’t upset artists to find out that artists used lenses or mirrors or other aids, but it certainly does upset the art historians. Chuck Close) * As good as Close is there are still discernible differences between the photo he took of Robert Israel and the painting bob. For example; the rim on the left side of the glasses is slightly misshapen on the nose side, mouth is a slightly different shape. Close even acknowledges one difference in particular. He recalls that coming back to his work after a break, he noticed that the highlight on the left lens of the glasses was too bright and almost decided to take the glasses off all together but decided against it.
About this he is quoted as saying “When you start believing in your own illusion, you’re in serious trouble” * Close employs a gigantic scale so that the? photograph’s information about the? surface of the face will be not merely? available but unavoidable * From a distance his work looks like a head but up close you are forced to notice all the minor details in the face and the tones and shapes created by the paint * His work is rare in that he works on such a huge scale without compromising the detail.
The brushstrokes don’t get bigger with the scale. * Very shallow depth of field which is something you cant do painting from real life * Bob appears to be looking through the viewer * The shallow depth of field contributes to the painting coming alive. The nose seems to be poking out at you while the eyes and ears seem to be set back creating depth. * This work is not just the recreation of a photo, it helps us to understand more about the face than what we would see with our eyes on the actual subject. Uses a technique called grisaille–A painting technique using only grey tints * Close was born in 1940 and is still alive and working today at the age of 72 * It is important to understand 1 year in particular of his childhood that led him to create art. * “Virtually everything I’ve done is influenced by my learning disabilities,” * I think I was driven to paint portraits to commit images of friends and family to memory. ” * I also connect with this as I enjoy drawing from pictures of things more than real life