Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chuck Close: Facebook by Chuck Close

How underrated is the human face? The map and testament of the conditions and experiences that someone has weathered. Those wrinkles there on her face speak on behalf of the constant and monotone rigor she has put up with to clothe her lifestyle. Those laugh lines scream and laugh as they recount all the wonderful times spent smiling under shaded parks. That gaze, situated under two furrowed brows, longs for something dropped on the path to the present. Is a face the communicator of its own language? Chuck Close might say, “yes”.
                                                                                            “Chuck Close: Facebook” is a small book that has Chuck Close answering questions addressed to him by young middle schoolers. Some of the questions asked are, “Why do you only paint faces?”, “Why doesn't anyone in your art smile?” and “How do you make your pictures loo so real?”. The book begins by explaining who Close is, a widely known modern artist whose subject matter is the human face. Close rose to fame by painting photorealist portraits of human faces, all in huge scaled canvases. The book does not have a very distinct plot, instead it presents information in question and answer format. Questions are presented to Close and he answers them while giving information about his trade. In the book, Close does delve into a personal narrative, although it is a very brief one. The book also has a very interesting interactive feature. The first couple of pages in the book contain smaller versions of some of Close's paintings separated into three horizontal pieces. Readers are then able to switch these paintings around to create new views and to see how all of Close's self portraits seem to blend together.

One of the strengths of this book is that it contains some of the works of the subject. While the text in the book has Close explaining the features of his work, there are many paintings of his that add depth to his responses. The interactive element of the book that was mentioned earlier is also a great use of illustration. These paintings are displayed with no text and as such this enhances their presentation. Another strength of the book is the Question and Answer format of presenting information. This format allows the reader (presumably one between the ages of 8-12) to really identify with the text. The questions themselves are worded in a way that they mirror the thought process of someone that age. This allows the reader to form a connection with the information being presented. Yet another strength of the book is the fact that is could easily be implemented as a one day lesson in a middle school art class. Because it is rather short and straightforward, this book could be implemented as an introduction to either Chuck Close, painting, photo-realism, or even perseverance. The book lends itself to be implemented in a variety of ways. One weakness of the book is that it does not provide a very in depth biography of Close's life. The book merely provides the reader with a timeline of events in Chuck's life. The book is more focused on providing the reader with answers to Close's art but it might be helpful to students to have access to a more in depth biography.

This book would be a text that preteens should be exposed to. The text provides students into the art world, an asset in a student's education that often goes ignored. The book creates a relationship with the reader and it efficiently explores the characteristics of Chuck Close's art. The book also gives a subtle lesson on perseverance. It is mentioned in the book that close is a paraplegic but that he still does what he loves and has become successful doing so. This message will not be lost on a young reader. It is books like these with the undertones of perseverance that might positively impact a student's learning experience.


Sarah Hicks said...

This book seems really interesting. I think you did a nice job of explaining the setup of the book. As someone who enjoys art, I definitely would like to check it out. I also think young people would benefit from more exposure to art. Thanks for the review!

Karra Badakhshanian said...

This book sounds really interesting! I could definitely see it being used in an Art class. I'm glad you saw this too and explained how it could be implemented in the classroom. I enjoyed your interpretation and review on this book a lot. The links you provided were also very interesting and helped me understand the artist and book more. His art is incredible!

I found the format of the book really interesting with the question/answer format. I think young adults would have an easier time reading this type of format because it is, like you said, straightforward. Additionally, I think the pictures will help the readers understand the authors answers more as well. I like how you said it will cause them to think more in-depth by analyzing his work and his reflection on them.

I did not expect you to say that the artist is paraplegic. I think it is amazing that he has been able to get this far and develop his painting skills with this constraint. I think this book could additionally help many people who face challenges in their day-to-day life to persevere with their dreams and ambitions. He could be a great role model. Thanks for the review!

marty edwards said...

This is a great review, Giovani. I studied Close a bit in an art class I took at the College of Lake County, before I transferred to RU. What really interests me is the philosophical bend the text seems to maintain. His art is (at least to my largely untrained eye) rather sombre, I'm interested in why he creates the art he does. It sounds, based on your review, that he does have a sort of ideological reason for the flavor of his art. That in itself is good for YA readers. As much as I love fiction and stories (I really do) a nice existential or otherwise philosophical reading experience is largely absent in YA reading. (IMHO)