Monday, September 3, 2012

Chuck Close: Face Book

by Chuck Close
Abrams | 2012

This 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Award winner brings a group of fifth grade art students into Chuck Close's studio and allows them to ask him questions. Each question begins a section and Close's answers provide the text. A pleasing introduction, four-page timeline, resource list, extensive glossary, and double spread list of illustrations with thumbnails rounds out the text. And best of all, right in the center is a signature of heavy card stock paper cut into thirds and featuring 14 of Close's self-portraits that a reader can flip and match and, in essence, create new art with.

Not being a modern art aficionado, I wasn't entirely clear who Chuck Close is. In a nutshell, he's an artist who paints massive face portraits from small squares of color that form together into shapes. If you stand too close to his art, it doesn't look like anything but colorful squiggles. But step back a few feet or more and there's Philip Glass or Bill Clinton or Close himself looking right at you.

In the text, he explains his background as a kid who struggled with academics, how he started drawing, and how he developed his process. He chronicles his accident leading to quadriplegia in the 80s and how he continued to paint afterwards. He gives advice to budding artists and how his assistants work with him.

This one is great for any kid interested in art. It's about process and about someone who needed an outlet and who shined in one way while struggling in another. And its design is spectacular and it'll be a good addition to your coffee table or the book table in your classroom.

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