As Picasso once said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal” and through the centuries of art there is a general consensus that all of the great artists have stolen and remade ideas based on the artwork and culture surrounding them. Inspiration would be another way to put it. We are all inspired in different ways and by people and the culture around us. A famous artist Chuck Close took past artist’s ideas and created pieces that would be an inspiration in themselves. The impressionism and post-impressionism movement sparked an era of creative and colorful works of art that have contributed to many influential and current artists of todays world. The movement helped to stray away from naturalism and perspective and focused towards the importance of color and the meaning behind the piece rather than the reality of it. Chuck Close has aspects of these techniques within most of his pieces, as well as the gradual movement of moving from hyperrealism and naturalism to a more color filled and abstract style of works. Chuck Close’s most famous piece, Lucas I, has a blending of color through abstract forms to create an up close portrait of a man. His stippled, multi-colored dots on the piece pulls from Van Gogh’s style of layering colors to create a recognizable form. He mimics Cezanne by creating a calming color contrast and choosing colors that he knows will blend well together to create a naturalistic look from far away. However, when you move closer to the painting all of the other colors in the piece are so obvious and are no longer blending but rather separated and recognized individually through the viewers eyes. Close’s earlier pieces involving graphite are focused solely on perception and naturalism, similar to Gauguin. Close’s development of his first pieces were to gain familiarity to the human face and to recognize and become an expert on the shading and forms on ones face. He has such naturalism in his beginning works and eventually evolves into a colorful and abstract painting that still resembles his beginning naturalism and organic colors.
Vincent Van Gogh Self Portrait with Felt Hat, c. 1887
Oil on canvas
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
DimensionsL 44 x 37. 5 cm
Vincent Van Gogh’s self portrait proves to be a product of the post impressionist era. The colors, although naturalistic, the straight lines of color that create Van Gogh’s self portrait are so out of place that the piece is deemed unnaturalistic. I believe the Close definitely pulled his ideas from artists like Van Gogh because just like Close’s Lucas I piece, the self portrait has obvious colors schemes that would not be labeled as a natural human color. For example, the popping white streaks and hints of green would never be found on someones face in the natural world.
Paul Cezanne, Peasant (Le paysan), ca. 1891
Oil on Canvas
56 x 46 cm
Paul Cezanne, known as the father of modern art was also a key contributor in the post impressionist and impressionist movement. With this painting we clearly see a lack of naturalism and a focus more on color and the forms of color that takes place in the man. the colors are meant to play off of each other and create a calm feeling for the viewer. Cezanne layers multiple colors to create a volume in the piece, just as Close had done in his Lucas I piece. He added multiple colors to a single stipple dot that helped to add a lot of color balance.
Paul Gauguin, Tahitian Faces (Frontal Views and Profiles), ca. 1899
Charcoal on laid paper, 41 x 31.1 cm
Met Museum 1996.418
This piece is much more naturalistic in the forms of the faces. they are meant to have an aspect of naturalism in order to convey that these women are exotic and come from a different place then the viewers. This reminds me of pieces done by Chuck Close that have such a sense of hyperrealism, even his Lucas I piece, although made of abstract forms conveys so much naturalism in the portrait. Although Tahitian Faces is more of a rough sketch and has the “unfinished” look it is still a post impressionist painting that resembles naturalism without all of the exact details of a complete naturalist piece.
Chuck Close, Keith, 1972
Acrylic on Canvas
44 1/2 x 35 inches
Saint Louis Art Museum, Accession Number: 793: 1983
This piece is a acrylic painting that has so much naturalism held within the piece. An extreme amount of attention to detail that has developed Close's skill to have been able to make pieces such as, Lucas I. I believe that his pieces related to this were the foundational steps to be able to manipulate the face of Lucas I and other works with color and shapes. The naturalism in the piece doesn't necessarily scream post impressionism but without having had the foundation and inspiration of the Keith piece his future paintings may not have been as successful.
Chuck Close, Leslie, 1977
Pastel, graphite, and watercolor on watercolor- washed paper
30 x 22 inches
John Berggruen Gallery
In Leslie we begin to see his experimentation with the manipulation of forms on the face. Having to find volume and shadows while choosing colors that stray away from the organic colors of the face. This piece compared to the Lucas I piece proves to be the beginning work of this type of style. When comparing the two it is obvious to tell which one came first and which piece had a sense of experimentation. The lucas I was formed with a sense of knowledge of what the face looked like. Close truly became familiar and comfortable with the face of a person. The Leslie piece does not show so much expertise and for the simple fact that it was the beginning of this new style Close was learning about.
- Hannah Manning