If you’ve ever seen Chuck Close’s work, it’s a sight to behold. The way he sees the world is arguably unrivaled by any contemporary artist in the last century. Often labeled as a photorealist or hyperrealist, Close’s paintings work on two levels: from a distance, where the greater image is seen as a whole, and up close (the irony is not lost that “close” is his last name), where the image is broken down into its concomitant parts, each individual in color and shape yet all reliant on one another in the greater context of the painting.
Whether paint or ink, Close takes the minutiae and makes it grand. In this portrait of his grandmother-in-law, called “Fanny/Fingerpainting,” from a distance, one assumes it is a black-and-white photograph. But you know better—it’s Chuck Close we’re talking about. Edge nearer to the work and it becomes clear that the tones and hues are thousands of Close’s own fingerprints, each individual married to its neighbor to create the greater image. (Despite being left acutely paralyzed after suffering a “catastrophic spinal artery collapse” in 1988, Close continues to paint.)
[quote] Seen from a distance, the painting looks like a giant, silver-toned photograph that unrelentingly reveals every crack and crevice of the sitter’s face. Closer up, the paint surface dissolves into a sea of fingerprints that have an abstract beauty, even as they metaphorically suggest the withering of the sitter’s skin with age.” [/quote]