Around Them Through Their Art
How Close, Robeson, and Hosseini Have Affected the World Around Them
Through Their Art
Many artists have made lasting change in the world with their medium of expression. Few artists, however, have made the impact on the world that pioneers Chuck Close, Paul Robeson, and Khaled Hosseini have made. Together, these three artists have not only compiled impressive resumes, but they have contributed above and beyond their respective professions, answering a higher calling and making the world a better place to live.
Born in 1940, Chuck Close was a visual arts pioneer. Considered by many to be one of the most important American artists, he perfected the photorealism style of art to a degree far beyond his contemporaries -- and no one since has even come close to his highly-polished works. Born in 1965, Khaled Hosseini is a prominent writer who has published award-winning novels that have also been well-known bestsellers, such as The Kite Runner. Hosseini also heads up the Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a charitable concern that renders assistance to Afghan refugees, including children who have been impacted by the war-torn country. Born in 1898, Paul Robeson was a talented African-American performer who dedicated much of his life to civil rights activism, waging a lifetime of struggle against racism and discrimination.
Chuck Close was born to parents who strongly supported his interest in pursuing a career in visual arts. He attended Yale University, which is where his interest in the subgenre of photorealism grew. Despite his lackluster academic performance, Close graduated from the prestigious university with a bachelor's degree. Paul Robeson was born in Princeton, New Jersey, to William Drew and Anna Louisa Robeson. Because of his father's close affiliation with a Presbyterian Church in Princeton, Robeson grew up singing church hymns and gospels. Considered by many to be a 20th-century renaissance artist, his contemporaries include such luminaries as Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, and songstress Billie Holiday. As a key contributor to the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s, Robeson sang songs, and acted in plays that brought the struggle and resilience of African-Americans to a broad audience. He is perhaps best known for his song, "Ol' Man River". His voice, known for its richness, resonated with all kinds of people who dreamed about a world of equality, freedom, and independence for all people. Indeed, Robeson's voice was a powerful force during a very racially-segregated era of American history. Despite these challenges, Robeson contributed to a rich and vibrant African-American artistic community in New York City -- and beyond. Khaled Hosseini is now considered to be one of the most important literary artists from Afghanistan. He spent his early childhood in a fairly well-to-do household. He and his family left Afghanistan before colonialist wars ravaged the country. He earned his Doctorate of Medicine from Santa Clara University in 1989, and became a physician, practicing medicine for more than a decade. He published his seminal work, The Kite Runner, in 2003 to much critical acclaim and popular success. He is not considered a representative of any specific type of literature. In this sense, he is a true pioneer, and has received global recognition for his perspective on pre-colonial Afghanistan -- a time before the country was forced to fight the communist USSR, and a time before the Taliban came to power, as well as the subsequent American occupation. The Kite Runner, considered by many to be a literary masterpiece, is mostly autobiographical. It also addressed the role of Islam in pre-colonial Afghanistan, becoming a book that aroused controversy. Hosseini is an influential writer who has examined religious and sociopolitical issues in Afghanistan, exploring a range of taboo subject matter, including gender roles and relations. Hosseini's contemporaries include John Updike, Haruki Murakami, Isabel Allende, Steve Sterne, Stephen King, and many more eminent authors.
Chuck Close was the pre-eminent photorealist of his time, and pioneered this genre of visual art. One of his contemporaries, and great influences, included Jackson Pollock, who was well-known for his "splatter method" of abstract painting. Indeed, Close was at the avant-garde of the art world. However, it has been speculated that he worked mostly on his own, and was influenced by only a handful of visual artists. Otherwise, very little is known about his social life and artistic influences. As he pursued a Master of Fine Arts degree at Yale University, his interest in photorealism grew. Close had difficulty remembering people's faces, but as his expertise in portraiture grew, Close became better at a skill that most people take for granted. Close's art made him a happy person, and he never looked back, even as he pioneered photorealism. The photorealism movement originated in the 1970s. Some photorealist painters could execute their portraiture so well that the paintings resembled photographs. Close was well-known in the art world for his mastery of photorealism. One of the most unique qualities of his body of work was his adeptness with self-portraits and his studies of human facial characteristics, studies that earned him a lot of recognition. Close's photorealistic efforts are difficult to categorize, but most of them allude to a type of self-reflexivity, and the titles of his compositions correspond to the lens through which Close's paintings are contextualized. Indeed, Close, who is still painting, is a man who is ahead of his time. Paul Robeson was one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, and most critics will agree with this assertion. His songs were primarily folk songs or traditional spiritual songs that helped spread the renaissance movement of black Harlem. Before he devoted his career to music and acting, Robeson practiced law in New York City after he graduated from New York City's Columbia University. He was a successful attorney. However, he encountered jealousy and racial discrimination at his law firm. He changed his career direction, and devoted himself to the growing civil rights movement, seeking to improve equal rights and non-discrimination for all blacks. Paul Robeson died in 1976. Khaled Hosseini, a literary innovator, is noted for the strong emotional impact his work leaves on its readers. While he writes about his native land of Afghanistan, he addresses universal themes, such as love, friendship, and loyalty. One of the aspects of his style is its simplicity and approachability. He uses simple language to convey complex themes and characters. This readability serves Hosseini well because he writes about a setting in Asia that most people are unfamiliar with -- Afghanistan. Most notably, his focus is on a time period that most of his readership are too young to understand -- the so-called pre-colonial period. One of the hallmarks of a Hosseini novel is the focus on Islam and the relationships between Muslims with the rest of the world. Hosseini portrays the religion in a positive light, dispelling the myth that most Muslims are radicalized terrorists. His novels develop characters who belong to the Islamic faith, which Hosseini portrays as peaceful, loving, and forgiving.
Close, Hosseini, and Robeson have all changed the world in unique ways. Individually, as well as collectively, these three men have fought for their unique visions of the world. Chuck Close has perfected a style of painting that is so realistic it appears to be photography. He has stayed true to himself during different art movements, and critical opinions of his work. He has contributed a body of work that he will always be remembered for. Photorealism, in turn, has influenced many younger artists who see the world through painter's eyes, but are able to portray it as a realistic photograph. Khaled Hosseini's novels have portrayed the religion of Islam as a peaceful, kind faith, helping to change the stereotypes that have hurt or hindered the Muslim world. Currently, Hosseini continues to benefit those from his native land, through the ardent work of the Hosseini Foundation. The Hosseini Foundation's mission is to provide relief to Afghan refugees during this time of seemingly endless colonial occupations, corrupt government, and war. Hosseini, more than a devout Muslim and a talented writer, is a humanitarian devoted to the betterment of his brothers and sisters. Similar to Hosseini, Robeson fought for the civil rights movement. Robeson distinguished himself internationally as a black man who wanted to live peacefully among men and women of all colors. Besides being a gifted and talented performer, his outspoken stance on equality for African-Americans was a great achievement. His controversial positions on matters of relations between blacks and whites managed to catch the attention of the FBI, as well as Senator Joseph McCarthy during the so-called "Red Scare". Nonetheless, Robeson did not flinch. He was a principled person who stood up for his beliefs in a better, more equal world, unblemished by racism and discrimination.
Three men. Three unique ways of positively affecting the world forever. Chuck Close, Khaled Hosseini, and Paul Robeson will always be remembered as men of principle. Together, they have done more work to change people's perceptions than any other tripartite group. Each man overcame racial or religious barriers to contribute to a better world. Doubtless, the world would be a poorer place without these great men. Close, Hosseini, and Robeson have not only spoken their minds and expressed themselves through their critically-acclaimed artwork, each one of them has expanded the reach of their work and rejected our limiting, pre-defined realities, the blinders with which most of us perceive the world. These men have fought the good fight for people they do not know. For these reason, they are the three people who have most positively affected our world.