Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

This work by Leger interests me as his subject matter is what intrigues me the most – the human form – more particularly the female body. He has painted them in a way that they are still beautiful but have been flattened but rounded into cylinders at the same time . Strong simple imagery with sophisticated spatial and colour schemes. Impressionism

France, ca. 1870s
The Impressionists were a group of painters who, in general, departed from the traditional pursuit of reproducing an illusion of real space in paintings of academic subjects, choosing instead to exploit the possibilities of paint to explore the fleeting effects of nature and the vagaries of visual sensation in, for the most part, rapidly executed works. Among the several dozen painters who participated in this loosely defined group—most of whom are unknown today—were Mary Cassatt, Paul C�zanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre Auguste Renoir. These artists were associated principally through their group exhibitions (although some, like C�zanne, never showed their work in the so-called Impressionist exhibitions) and were perceived by some critics of the time as sharing certain stylistic devices, such as employing loose brushwork to produce the illusion of the artist�s spontaneous recording of natural light on the canvas and rejecting the practice of chiaroscuro (modeling in light and dark). In their pursuit of modernity, some of them borrowed formal devices used in photography and Japanese prints, such as radical foreshortening, cropping, and keyhole or bird�s-eye perspective.

The work of the Impressionists was indebted to the Barbizon school of artists active in the 1850s in developing plein-air (out-of-doors) painting, although even the Impressionists who were most celebrated for painting directly from nature, such as Monet, often completed their canvases in the studio. The Impressionists moved away from the Barbizon school�s romantic naturalism and themes of rural peasant life to more urban subject matter, especially scenes of Parisian leisure and entertainment, city parks, and suburban landscapes.

Chuck Close once said, “Are you looking at me?  I’m the only one here.  So I painted myself.[1]”  This quote is a statement about his painting style and what I believe the artist wants to portray with his imagery.  Within this essay I will discuss the context surrounding this statement and how it relates to Close’s style and methodology.

To this artist the person posing for his portrait is not his only focus.  To demonstrate this we need to look closer to the painting in figure 1.  You find the overall image begins to blur and lose clarity, but are then surprised to see all the individual frames that make up this painting, and that each of these frames is an entity with its own space.  They make a statement that they should be there and do have a value in their own right.  In an interview Close once said, “From the beginning (what I) wanted to do was mitigate against the standard hierarchy of the portrait”[2].  Simply put, he wanted the subject of the portrait to be no more important than the process by which the painting itself was completed – all parts are to be equal.  This is the context that surrounds Close’s works and practice.

[1] David Tseklenis Chuck Close-a portrait in progress.  1

[2] Engberg S and Grynsztejn M Navigating the Self , 2


Degas style interests and intrigues me – his work Dancer (Danseuse) is a beautiful example of an impressionist at work. It shows bold strokes and use of colour, and is not a direct copy of the model. I ask the question-is this in the same format as the works by Chuck Close and Ellen Carey – and I say yes! Degas’s interest is in the process & technique of the painting which is also true of Close and Carey.

Self Portrait 1986

Ellen Carey is a photographer whose work is in some ways similar to Chuck Close’s style. Her camera produces images that use circles and shapes that display her portrait. She also has many self portraits, like Close, and comments ” that in exposing the physical nature of the medium itself, the resulting image becomes something altogether foreign, bearing almost no resemblance to what we traditionally consider to be a photograph.” This is also inline with the work of Close – he too wanted to expose the process in which the painting made and remove the focus from the person sitting for the portrait.

I found this youtube rendition of an interview with Chuck Close great.

The first connection to my essay and my last blog is with the video image itself, the way it is replicating his style of painting by digitalising the moving image. As Close moves in the video, the digitalised image moves, keeping pace and constantly changing. The black and white imagery is much bolder than if it had been in colour and provides much more contrast. It is amazing that by taking the focus out of the video, you lean back in your chair and listen harder to what is actually been said. I believe Close would have been pleased with this outcome, as he would liken to his initial desire to make all parts of his paintings to have the same importance – or – that no part is any more important than another.

The second connection is in the interview itself.  Close is talking about his style, and how some have credited him with predating the computer with his digitalised paintings. He doesn’t discount the thought, and he comments that some of the interest in his works may actually be related to that idea.