Thursday, December 20, 2012

“Inspiration is for amateurs. Artists just show up and get to work.”

Chuck Close: Face Book by Chuck Close won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction award in 2012.  Aimed at middle grades, the artist introduces himself and his art with a kid-generated questions and answers section and reproductions of his large-scale portraits (mostly of himself done in divided, flippable segments which are great fun to flip back and forth).

I spent quite a bit of time with this book last summer when I was reading books that could tie into the big idea of perspective.  Artistic perspectives would work, so I looked at many resources about different kinds of artists.  I had never heard of Chuck Close and was mightily intrigued with his work and his life.

The kids ask all sorts of questions, such as
  • How did you become such a great artist?
  • Have you ever painted anyone famous?
  • Why are your paintings so big?
  • When you were paralysed, were you afraid you wouldn't be able to paint again?
This gives Chuck Close the opportunity to explain his work, influences and some life defining moments.  The paralysis question relates to a collapsed blood vessel in his spine that left him unable to move from the chest down.  After eight months of intensive physio-therapy he was able to move his arms and hands enough to paint with some technical assistance.

The book focuses primarily on his art work.  He compares his work to that of a composer, “making music with paint colors”.  Many of his portraits are comprised of many ‘abstract’, miniature paintings or colours and shapes that relies “on the viewer’s eye to assemble the face.”  Truly fascinating.

Highly recommended.


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