Visual Arts Andy Warhol's "Self-Portrait 1986" Versus Term Paper

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Visual Arts

Andy Warhol's "Self-Portrait 1986" versus "Self-Portrait" by Chuck Close: A visit to the Columbus Museum of Art.

In this paper I plan to compare two original paintings currently housed in the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus Ohio. I have chosen two self-portrait as my subjects, each from American Artists of the 20th Century. The first painting I will discuss is Self-Portrait by Chuck Close. The second is "Self-Portrait 1986" by Andy Warhol. As I will demonstrate in this paper, these paintings and the men who made them are as different from each other as night from day, but still tend to represent a similar school in art. The men even come from similar backgrounds, but turn out their art for very different reasons.

It is difficult to see the kind of man Chuck Close is by the pictures in his life. His self-portrait is based in photorealism, the classic artists theme.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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Term Paper on Visual Arts Andy Warhol's "Self-Portrait 1986" Versus Assignment

His color scheme is monochromatics. There is a clear emphasis on the subject with a subordination of background focusing, This requires you to look more closely at the subject matter - in this case the face - since the black background connects with the shadowed areas giving a stark contrast. The proportion of the face in relation to the canvas size, and the way it dominates the canvas, make it feel very personal. The face has a blank look, which leaves the viewer open to interpret the subject's mood in any way he or she wants. The rhythm of the painting is purposefully monotonous, it tends to hold you gaze. The subject's eyes are a repetition of form within the glasses - a circle within a circle. Alternation of dark and light within the picture pull the eye through to the eye like a target. His large portrait is mostly made up of a repetition of dots within dots replicated in painstaking detail box by box. As with most of Close's portraits, the one in the museum is very large and shows the subject frontal and mural sized, centered in a very shallow space. His pictures are somewhat reminiscent of unguarded photographs, such as driver's license photos yet do not have the same remote objectivity which is so much a part of photography.

It is not surprising that Chuck Close would paint this way. A life filled with strife and pain preceded his career as a painter. His father moved the family around through much of Chuck's young life, finally dying when Chuck was 11. His mother soon developed breast cancer, and the family lost their home due to medical bills. Chuck himself was bedridden for almost a year with kidney disease. His ability with art kept him going through the bad times. His talent with sketching and painting got him noticed, and he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington in 1962 and did post-graduate work at Yale. His early work was very different from his work of today. In the late fifties, newly arrived at school, he worked in a manner which is 180 degrees different from his later works, heavily influenced by the abstract artists of the early 20th century - Pollock, Mason, de Kooning and other New York artists. He was known for intense and painstaking brush work, which still is seen today in his later works. After he attended Yale, he changed to the more familiar photo realist style he is so well-known for today. He began by using large frame Polaroid pictures of models and produced his paintings by extracting areas grid-by-grid from the photos, which he then placed on the canvas in color, eventually piecing all the grids together. He is well-known for showing his subjects "warts and all" in extreme close up, reproducing every element and flaw. He often used friends and family members as well as himself in his paintings.

One of his most famous portraits shows him with no shirt on and a cigarette dangling from his lips. His hair (which he appears to be losing) is a mess. He was not afraid to show what was not pretty and determined to show what was real.

Close was stricken with quadriplegia at age 48 because of a blood clot to his spine. He continues to paint from his wheel chair. His highly stylized paintings, separated into separate boxes which only illuminate the whole when one steps back and tends to observe the painting from a distance is, in microcosm, the standard of Chuck Closes' entire life.

Close is sometimes described as a photorealist, but has also been described as a painter working in the minimalist, process oriented style of the 1960s and 1970s. Close paints in a western traditional style but with a modern twist. His grid method forces the viewer to think as they change the viewing distance with random shapes coalescing into a self-portrait.

Another realist artist of the pop area currently exhibited at the Columbus Museum of Art is Andy Warhol. His life and his work are quite different from that of Chuck Close, yet some elements of their social and personal development are the same.

Warhol was born in Pennsylvania, the son of immigrant farmers. While Close and Warhol both lost their fathers at relatively young ages, and both showed early talent for art, Warhol went toward a more commercial venue in his early art. After graduation from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh with a degree in commercial art, Warhol went to New York and there worked as an illustrator for magazines like Vogue and mostly did commercial advertising. He soon became one of New York's most sought of and successful commercial illustrators. Warhol's work become the iconographic pop art, using paintings of every day objects in mass productions like the Campbell's Soup Cans and the silk screened prints of famous people for which he is most well-known. It was Warhol's desire to break down the barriers between fine art and commercial art. For this reason, he frequently made multiple copies of his works, and called his art studio "The Factory." His favorite medium appears to be silk-screening, although he also delved into magazine publishing and movie making. He hired young men and women to work as "artists" in his factory, mass producing his artwork. After an assassination attempt by one of his former workers in the 1970s, Warhol made a change in his style of work, changing from the art of mass production to that of the silk screener of the rich and famous. Some of his most famous subjects are individual portraits of Mick Jagger and Brigitte Bardot. At this time, Warhol began to turn his mind away from making art in whatever form and more towards the business of making art. He started Interview magazine, and was quoted as saying that "making money is art and working is art and good business if the best art" Famously cheap, from his earliest days, Warhol turned into a master at marketing himself and his ethos. He was also known to be a famous workaholic, sometimes staying up for 24 hours straight to achieve the look he wanted.

In regards to the self-portrait in the Columbus Museum, it is classical in its composition and theme. The subject, Warhol himself, is centered in the canvas, again the classic image of the self-portrait. The picture is monochromic sevigrapgraphy (as silk-screen is sometimes known. The Artist's face is in high contrast which gives an almost chiaroscuro effect. There in an overlay of color which helps to pull the eye through the composition and gives the viewer focus on the face - one head on a black background. This works well in the form of a subordination role. The colored area helps pull the eye to the area of greatest emphasis. The proportion of black vs. white in this self-portrait gives a pleasing sense of balance and compliments the foreground of the portrait.

Once again, as in the Close painting, the viewer is eye-to-eye with the subject/artist's neutral and natural expression. The areas of color give a splash of mood to the work; orange (excitement), pink (energy) and soft pastel. This restricted palette gives the piece a bold graphic feel which is classic of the Warhol pop art graphic style. The rhythm of the painting flows vertical to the angles of the stripes of color which imparts a feeling of motion.

Graphically speaking, the Warhol is a stronger painting that the Close self-portrait, but Close's process and use of material as well as his hand painted grid square system makes Close's work stronger in my mind as a piece of fine art. Closes' picture is far more dimensional than the Warhol and forces the viewer to look up close as well as far away.

The Art of Chuck Close and Andy Warhol seem very different and at the same time very similar. Both men used themselves, their friends and families as subjects for their work. Both used a somewhat industrialized method to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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