Chuck Close constantly presents a question for me. I love his work, particularly that of later years, but I really don’t know why. The aesthetic reasons are mysterious to me, which points to the mystery that is aesthetics. Even Mondrian who created a philosophy to go with his paintings, whose subject is aesthetics, admitted to working intuitively and this can be seen in his unfinished works and descriptions of his method of painting. And at the very end with his last paintings done in New York, his intuition took him to some obvious allusions to city life in his paintings Broadway Boogie-Woogie and the unfinished Victory Boogie-Woogie.
Close’s subject is the human face and it has been since he came to prominence during the late 1960’s, linked by critics to the then prominent photo-realists movement. His subject seems to be all about image making, the superficial aspect of the shape of the human face, and how little or how much can be used to create a vibrant image of the face. It doesn’t seem to be about portraiture, and only about whatever character is suggested by the shape of the face.
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