Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

This is our entry in Lens-Artists Challenge #58 – Something Old, Something New…...

In June, we visited the  America’s Presidents exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.  Here we found the extraordinary portrait of William Jefferson Clinton,  the 42nd U.S. President (1993 – 2001), created by the artist Chuck Close in 2006.  From a distance, this portrait looks like any other traditional portrait, but up close it is quite different.

 

 

According to the plaque beside the portrait,

“Chuck Close begins all of his paintings by taking a photograph of his subject, in this case an image made during a photo session in August 2005 for a New York magazine cover. He then creates grids on both the canvas and the photograph to replicate the information contained in the photograph with a series of abstract modules.”

In describing Chuck Close’s unique painting technique, Jessica Backus says in The Art Genome Project,

“Over the years, Close’s grid got looser, the squares larger and filled with more intuitive shapes. Close has compared them to Byzantine mosaics, ‘where an image is built out of discrete incremental marks – chunks of stone or glass – that fit together. I want people to see what made the image. I like dropping crumbs along the trail like Hansel and Gretel.'”

We believe that this portrait fits the theme “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” perfectly:

  • Something old: Portraits have been painted since ancient times.
  • Something new: The technique used in this painting has evolved to its current form during this century.
  • Something borrowed: The portrait is on loan to the Gallery by Ian and Annette Cumming.
  • Something blue:  Close’s most frequently-used colors are red, yellow and blue.  The color blue is especially apparent in the portrait in Clinton’s eyes and hair.

This photo was taken on June 14, 2019. Specs are:

Olympus TG-5, ISO 500, f/2.3, 1/30 sec, 5.5mm.