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Chuck Close


1940, Monroe, Washington
2021, Oceanside, New York

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Close explains why he makes portraits

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A face, staring straight forward, isolated and centered, more a drivers license or passport photo than a traditional painted portrait. Chuck Close has made a career of creating these portraits of himself, his friends, family members, and fellow artists like Agnes Martin, Roy Lichtenstein, Philip Glass.  



Painting was dead. Ive been around long enough to have painting be dead three or four times. And a period when painting is dead is absolutely the best time to paint, because its not the preferred sensibility, its not dictated what painting should look like; nobody cares anyhow. 


And I remember the reigning art critic at the time, Clement Greenberg, famously said, Theres only one thing that cant be done in art today, and thats paint a portrait. And I thought: Hm. Thats pretty interesting. That must mean that Im gonna have a lot of elbow room, and not a whole lotta competition. (laughs) Which gave me the opportunity to pick and choose from the conventions and traditions of portraiture, which had no urgency or importance for anybody in particular and sorta position myself in a way that I would make a truly modern portrait.  



His signature technique is to divide a photograph into tiny segments on a grid. Sometimes we see a face, sometimes a confetti of abstract forms.  



Using a grid to blow something up goes back, you know, at least to the Egyptians. 



Chuck Close. 



Im often overwhelmed by the whole. And I found that if I break things down into small bite sized pieces, this big overwhelming problem becomes much more solvable. You solve this little piece, and then that little piece. And if you hang in there, you will get somewhere. 

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