I came across the work of Chuck Close recently, whilst watching Iconoclasts. Chuck Close (who paradoxically for a portrait artist suffers from face blindness) is an American who made his name in the late 60′s, early 70′s painting huge hyper-realistic portraits, that are so unbelievably lifelike, that it simply looks like a photo, when in reality it’s a canvas about 1.5x 2m, with every hair, smoke curl and skin mark painted with a brush.
Here is one of his self portraits from 1969 as an example:
Despite suffering a collapsed spinal artery in 1988 that left him paralysed and wheelchair bound (what he now refers to as “The Event”) he has continued to paint. His condition has meant that, unable to paint in the very detailed styles that made his name, he has had to adapt, and has developed a very beautiful and unique approach to portraiture.
Photographs of his subject are divided by his assistants into a diagonal grid, which Close then translates, square by square, with a paint brush tied to his hand, into truly stunning images. His use of block colour and shapes, in small controlled areas, maximises his limited physical ability and has undoubtably allowed a genuinely remarkable gift to develop.
His work, always on a large scale, is produced and exhibited through a variety of mediums including his brush painted canvases, fingerprint painted canvases, daguerroetype and photogravure photographs and tapestries.
Here is another self-portrait (2004/2005):