Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chuck Close and Plastic Bottle Caps

I was introduced to the artist, Chuck Close, when I was doing my
student teaching at John Hay High School School of Architecture and Design.
My mentor showed me some of his art while we were studying photorealists.
I immediately fell in love with his work, especially his later work.

Here is an example of his earlier work.
Talk about photorealism - look at that detail. WOW!

Mark (1978–1979), acrylic on canvas. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.
Detail at right of eye. Mark, a painting that took fourteen months to complete.
Close encountered a catastrophic spinal artery collapse in 1988 which left him severely paralyzed. He found a way to continue painting - with a brush strapped onto his wrist.
No longer able to paint with intricate detail, Close managed to paint large portraits in "low-resolution grid squares that were created by an assistant. Viewed from afar, these squares appear as a single, unified image which attempt photo-reality, albeit in pixelated form."

Self-portrait by Chuck Close, 2000.
Detail of Self-Portrait by Chuck Close, 2000.

I cannot remember what I was researching when I came across the artist,
Mary Ellen Croteau, who was inspired by Chuck Close. I was captivated by her work
because she chose as one of her media, plastic bottle caps!
Here is the excerpt from her web-site that inspired her work:

"Plastic bottle caps - like bags, a plastic product that can’t be/ isn’t recycled. 
I conceived of an “endless column” of these caps, after Constantin Brancussi’s iconic
modernist sculpture (see image below). One became two, and two became many. 
While making these columns, I noticed the smaller caps tended to nest
inside one another, and the color combinations reminded me of Chuck Close’s painted portraits.  So I got sidetracked and started on a large self-portrait made entirely of bottle caps.  The piece measures 8 feet by 7 feet.  No paint is used, except to delineate a few shadows where white board was showing through. 
In a few cases, the caps are trimmed in order to fit into a tight space.
Constantin Brancusi, "Endless Column" 1937-1938

"Endless Columns" by Mary Ellen Croteau

And below is the end result!
"CLOSE," a self-portrait of Mary Ellen Croteau made with plastic bottle caps


  1. Hello Painting with Brains!

    I know, I love love love Chuck Close. When I discovered this artist creating plastic bottle cap art inspired by Close, I had to post it!

    May I ask, "What is your name?" I can't find it on your blog!

    Take care -


  2. I would like to extend a few words on the working progress of flip top caps in India.