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Contemporary Portraiture

Featuring Chuck Close's Janet, 1992

Chuck Close (American, born 1940). Janet, 1992. Oil on canvas, 100 x 84 inches (254 x 213.4 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; George B. and Jenny R. Mathews Fund, 1992 (1992:15). © 1992 Chuck Close

Lesson Plan Details

Conceptual Basis

Artist Chuck Close creates large-scale portraits in a unique way. Through the use of a grid system, Close creates paintings that are composed of many squares. Like an illusion, when viewing one of these paintings close up, one sees an array of squares filled with abstract shapes and colors. Upon further observation, and when viewed from a distance, a portrait appears that is formed by these separate square compositions. Close’s mathematical approach to structuring his work, combined with his abstract flair, results in energetic portraits. This lesson—which is inspired by the different elements of Close’s portraits—reinforces the elements of shape, color, and value in creating unique self-portraits.