Famous Friday // Keith


Chuck Close, Keith, acrylic on canvas, 108 1/4 x 84 in, 1970. Location: St. Louis Art Museum.

Chuck Close achieved notoriety in the art world due to his massive photorealistic portraits, like this week’s Famous Friday artwork – Keith. Close was a pioneer of the Photorealism movement in the 1960’s, but his work quickly moved beyond the bounds of the movement. He developed a system driven portrait painting process which resembles that of photography techniques. The artist worked from a photograph of his subject. Most of his work stems from photorealistic portraitures of himself, as well as his friends and family. He first gridded the photograph, and then Close duplicated the work on his oversize canvas using acrylic paint, and an airbrush.

The size of Close’s work is an important factor. From a distance, Keith appears to simply be a large photograph. However, as you get closer to the work, you’re able to see that the work is not a photograph and is instead a painting. Up close, the image is harder to read because of its size. If you’re standing up close to it, it is impossible for the viewer to see all of the details. Up close, the painting can resemble an abstract painting.


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