Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chuck Close at work part 2

(see also the post Chuck Close at work part 1 that showed the process of his post-photorealistic, prismatic grid work)

 Painting of John 1971-72 progression of various sections of the painting. The painting's size is 100 x 90 inches (8' 6" x 7' 6")
from Chuck Close Work page 78

 Chuck Close painting Mark 1978-79 (108 x 84 inches or 9 x 7 feet)
from Chuck Close Work page 86

Notice the 5 reference photos : magenta color separation, cyan color separation, then magenta+cyan color separation so he can check his progress, yellow color separations and magenta+cyan+yellow (the full color photo).

Chuck Close's approach to photorealistic painting is not what I expected. To achieve a slick photorealistic you pretty much have to approach it from a strict mechanical process but this wasn't what I expected. But it seems like a sensible approach : simplification and the use of technology.

He appears to begin, from top to bottom dividing the image into sections. A section is then painted from the magenta separation and once that is done that section is painted from the cyan separation with the magenta+cyan proof as an added reference. Then the section is painted guided by yellow separation. Only once the section is completed does he move on to another section

By painting one color at a time he is essentially doing 3 monochrome paintings albeit the second and third are atop a previous painting. Copying each color separation and using the magenta+cyan reference photos he reduces the problems of mixing colors correctly and consistently. Instead, he only has to do faithfully copy each color separation using a selection of values from light to dark of only a single color and the final color should come out correct.

Personally, I prefer his later "prismatic grid" works. Once you've seen a couple giant portraits they lose their uniqueness. They become enlarged photos. Photos enlarged by a very time consuming mechanical process like Chuck Close is an Epson printer. That is the point some might say but …

Pictures from the book Chuck Close Work by Christopher Finch (2010).