Pieces of art

part of yje photo mosaic of emmeline pankhurst by charkotte newson

I received a newsletter from Manchester City Art Gallery about a new exhibition called ‘Women like You’ which opens 6th March to 9th May 2010. Charlotte Newson has created a photo mosaic collage of Emmeline Pankhurst out of thousands of photographs of women.

This put me in mind of Marcus Harvey’s Myra Hindley, one of the Moors murderers which he showed at the Sensation exhibition in 1997.  This huge painting, used thousands of hand-prints taken from children and caused outrage of gigantic proportion.  I won’t put it here, out of respect for the victims relatives.  But this photo mosaic at Manchester City Art Gallery put me in mind of it.

Chuck Close

Another name which sprang to mind is Chuck Close (b. 1940 Washington USA).  I must write a piece dedicated solely to him as I love his art.  Close’s work is referred to as Photo realism or Hyperrealism and his early work was based on photographs. This is how he works;-


Photorealist Chuck Close

“this method was Big Self Portrait, a black and white enlargement of his face to a 107.5 in by 83.5 in (2.73 m by 2.12 m) canvas”To create his grid work copies of photos, Close puts a grid on the photo and on the canvas and copies cell by cell. Typically, each square within the grid is filled with roughly executed regions of color (usually consisting of painted rings on a contrasting background) which give the cell a perceived ‘average’ hue which makes sense from a distance. His first tools for this included an airbrush, rags, razor blade, and an eraser mounted on a power drill. His first picture with , made in over four months in 1968, and acquired by the Walker Art Center in 1969. He made seven more black and white portraits during this period. He has been quoted as saying that he used such diluted paint in the airbrush that all eight of the paintings were made with a single tube of mars black acrylic.”

Chuck Close 'Lucas' and detail close up 1986 -87


In 1988 the artist became paralysed.  He has had to rely on a wheelchair ever since.  But this has not stopped him making art and continues to work with a brush strapped and taped to his wrist;:-. 

Lucas by Chuck Close


“As he explained in a 2009 interview with the Akron Ohio Plain Dealer, he made a choice in 1967 to make art hard for himself and force a personal artistic breakthrough by abandoning the paintbrush. “I threw away my tools”, Close said. “I chose to do things I had no facility with. The choice not to do something is in a funny way more positive than the choice to do something. If you impose a limit to not do something you’ve done before, it will push you to where you’ve never gone before.”

He now uses different methods and other materials – inky fingerprints, scraps of paper to achieve his Photorealism.  He has adapted his art to himself and not the other way round – and with great effect!

'Joel' by Chuck Close


“I build a painting by putting little marks together – some look like hot dogs – some like doughnuts” (Chuck Close)

Chuck Close website here

Chuck Close information here

Read more about the Manchester exhibition here

PS  I have a new poem on  Bookstains, it’s called  The day with No name

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