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Big Ass Art

 

Okay, so I’m sure it’s pretty obvious that I like big ass-art, but today I want to talk a little about big-ass art (you see what I did there?), spotlighting two artists that specialize in some monumental-sized art.

Now of course people create on large canvases all the time in all sorts of genres, but what I really enjoy at enormous sizes is realistic portraiture. There’s just something to be said about that sort of art when it fills your whole perspective when you’re up close to it, and how it contrasts with its off-kilter size when you look at it from a distance. Looking at it when you’re far away, your mind tells you “this is the size it should be”, but external environmental cues throws everything pleasantly out of whack.

During my first visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, I saw the famous Washington Crossing the Delaware in person for the first time. I had seen it in art books and on TV before, but I had no clue it was that huge. Like HUGE. It’s twelve feet tall; making Washington and the other figures depicted in the scene roughly life sized. It has stuck with me to this day.

Washington Crossing the Delaware

Washington Crossing the Delaware. Emanuel Leutze, 185. Oil on Canvas 149″ x 255″

It was later that year I also saw the artwork of Chuck Close, whose work was being exhibited at the time. His paintings, featuring way larger than life portraits, blew me away. I wasn’t a fan of photorealistic art before (and in some cases, still am not), but he made me a convert. He was creating these photorealistic large scale art pieces before it was cool; basically as a dare to an art critic who claimed that there was nowhere new to go in portraiture. To give you a sense of scale, his self portrait, which I’ve attached here, is just shy of 9 feet tall. Both Emanuel Leutze’s Delaware, and Close’s oeuvre, really represent some of the art I enjoy.

Chuck Close Self Portrait

Big Self-Portrait. Chuck Close, 1967-1968 107 1/2″ x 83 1/2″

A more contemporary artist who is a master of  large scale portraiture is Kehinde Wiley, an African American artist whose work can take up whole rooms. Here’s an excerpt from his website kehindewiley.com, that describes one of his exhibitions.

The exhibition features Jamaican men and women assuming poses taken from 17th and 18th Century British portraiture, the first one in the ‘World Stage’ series to feature portraits of women. The juxtaposition between the sitter and the art historical references reflects on the relationship between the island and her former colonial power. The subjects’ proud posturing refers to both the source painting and the symbolism of Jamaican culture, with its singular people and specific ideals of youth, beauty and style.

Naomi and her Daughters

NAOMI AND HER DAUGHTERS , 2013 OIL ON CANVAS 108 X 90 INCHES

So David, if you like big-ass art, why don’t you create some?

Well, one of the good things about doing art digitally is that it’s fairly easy to scale your work up or down (down is easier than up, but depending on how it’s done, enlargement is also pretty possible).

To a point.

My works can get reproduced to a maximum of about 4′ x 5′, which is fairly large (three times the size of art I usually create), but then you get into the issues of finding a place that can create prints that size, and the fact I can only scale the work so far before it starts looking wonky.

So, I guess I have some research to do, as to where I can get art that size created, and how to make sure it looks fresh and clean at those sizes. So here’s my short term goal. I’m going to find out how to do this before I have my next exhibit (whenever that might be) and make sure that at least one piece is big-ass. Hell, I might even do a big ass painting of a big ass and of course call itBig Ass.

Ain’t that meta.

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