American, born 1940
Oil on canvas
100 x 84 inches (254 x 213.4 cm)
George B. and Jenny R. Mathews Fund, 1992
This is a portrait by Chuck Close of painter Janet Fish, a friend of his from Yale University. Fish remembered arriving at his studio without high hopes for the result, preparing herself for a "not so wonderful" image. In the end, she was very pleased, saying he had captured, "sparkle that I liked, a jump, and the way things moved very fast. That is something that I feel involved with in painting, so I think I was relating to that a lot." Close said he was not thinking about her art, but was instead interested in creating "with the strong darks and lights this kind of sparkly, almost liquid effect."
The process began with a photograph, which was enlarged to the size of the canvas. An identical grid was drawn on each one. He started in the upper left hand corner, continuing to the upper right and then starting the second line of squares and so on. Rather than copying the photograph precisely, however, each square is an individual abstract composition made up of different shapes. When standing close to the painting, it is hard to discern Janet; the further back you move, the clearer she becomes.
Related Lesson Plan
Grid Self-Portrait (For Grades 3–12)
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Please note that many of our most popular works, featured in this summer’s exhibition Sincerely Yours: Treasures of the Queen City, will be on tour through fall 2015. We hope you will come and find your new favorites while these works are out serving as ambassadors for Buffalo!
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