The image Keith by Chuck Close is a large and detailed painting with a plain background. The artist includes texture by drawing the pores and wrinkles that were on his friend’s face. In addition, there is a single strand for every hair on Keith’s head and eyebrows. Chuck Close even included black holes on the subject’s chin, which is where hair stubble was starting to grow. The image has a 3-d appearance and it is in black and white. Therefore, there are different shades of gray depending on where the light was hitting Keith’s face. The center of the subject face is the lightest area.
Therefore, it is the main focus. Keith has blurry in areas that are not the main focus. There are many lines in this painting. However, most of the lines and shapes are not straight because the lines are used to realistically portray an image. For example, the only straight lines in this painting are a couple of hair strands. The lines in the subject’s face, clothes, and most of his hair are slightly bent. In addition, the glasses on the man’s face are round. Lastly, the facial expression on the subject’s face adds to the experience.
His face shows that his personality was serious, or he was dealing with a difficult situation. The facial expression and color palette create mystery. The gray hues cause the painting to have a feeling of gloom. Therefore, I became curious on what was happening in the subject’s life. In this painting, there is not much of a location. The background appears to be a blank wall, which makes the experience more personal. The reason being, there is nothing else to focus on besides the man, and the image seems to be in a confined space.
The elements that mostly add to the viewer’s experience are the 3-d appearance and the texture. The 3-d appearance and the texture make the painting very realistic. When I first saw Keith, I thought it was a photograph. Even when I was right in front of this painting, it still looked like it could have been a photograph. I was surprised when I read the description and found out this piece was a painting. Chuck Close did use a photograph of his friend as the inspiration for this piece. I found the clarity of this painting to be very impressive.
Chuck Close created Keith during the movement of Photorealism. Photorealism created a link between painting and photography. Close would begin a project by taking a photo of his subject, creating grids on the photo and the material he was going to paint on, and then by painting the image. It is written that Chuck Close intention for creating Keith was just to have a series of paintings of his family and friends (Appleton). However, Close enjoys creating portraits because he enjoys exploring how self-identity is constructed in different individuals.
He also likes to use grids in his paintings to symbolize how every part of an image is important in the construction of the whole piece (The Art Story). Lastly, Close likes to crop out the subject’s body language and background. The reason being, it allows him to invite the viewer’s attention (John Berggruen Gallery). The artist created six other large portraits of his family members and friends with the same technique. Chuck Close used a candid photo of Keith because he found candid photos to be more interesting to him than flattering images (Appleton).
Close created the painting Keith in 1970, but I could not find where. I am presuming he created this painting in America. The reason being, after the painting was completed, he created additional prints of the photograph he used in San Francisco and Oakland, California (John Berggruen Gallery) (Grishin). However, the additional prints were created two years after the painting. In 1970, there were a lot of conservative backlashes. For example, there were multiple movements such as the anti-war movement, environmental movements, and women fighting for equal rights (History. com Staff).
In addition, the voting age was lowered to 18, the Apollo 13 mission to the moon was abandoned, import duty taxes were increased to protect American jobs, and National Guards killed 4 protesters at Kent State University (The People History). I do not believe the events during this time influenced Keith. However, Close’s artwork is effective in expressing his views about art. For example, I thought that the subject was a serious person, and I read that this piece portrays Keith’s personality. However, I did not know that Chuck Close enjoys examining people’s self-identity and their thoughts.
Before reading about the work, I did not understand the artist’s point of view. I figured Close created these paintings to remember the people he cares about, and he enjoyed realistic paintings. Although he did create very detailed images, I did not realize how important a deeper meaning was to the artist. For example, Close likes to break down an image to know more about his subject. However, his intentions were relevant to my sensibility because I did receive a mysterious feeling from the image, and Keith is supposed to cause the audience to wonder what was happening in the subject’s life.