At a first glance, one could be forgiven for thinking American artist Chuck Close’s portraits and prints were merely a series of photographs.
With their immaculate recreations of every pore, every hair, and every imaginable minute detail of the subject’s face, Close’s portraits have defined artistic photorealism, and the Museum of Contemporary Art’s exhibition of some of Close’s most famed work presents a rare and unique way to experience some of the legendary artist’s most intriguing and beloved works.
Entering the exhibit, you are greeted by the towering visage of Bob; a black and white portrait that stands nearly three metres tall. Completed between 1969 and 1970, it stands as one of Close’s, and indeed the exhibition’s, most interesting and alluring display pieces. There really is something to be said as to the sheer scope of this and much of Close’s other works. A majority of the prints, paintings, and stencils within the exhibition are simply massive, yet no less detailed than their more miniaturised counterparts. Even the least art-savvy viewer will enjoy marvelling at the enormous and enchanting pieces. Close’s various processes are explained in depth by the small placards that accompany each piece.
The details of the tools used to create the art are often more interesting and perplexing than the gargantuan pieces of art themselves. The various frames and numbered grids, which Close used to orchestrate his grand works, are on display and include a few oddities, such as a pair of metal stencils, which are just as impressive as the artworks they helped to create. The inclusion of these and some of his other stencils, woodblocks, and work-in-progress prints are an immensely helpful aid in understanding the art and the process involved in its creation.
The exhibition’s only real detraction is its seemingly bombastic layout. It doesn’t seem to follow any sort of order, whether it be chronological or even stylistic groupings, which makes it difficult to track the progression of Close’s style. For an artist like Chuck Close who continued to work after losing nearly all motor skills in 1988, an event which forced him to undergo a massive change in his creative process, it would have been better to see this change reflected in the gallery.
Still, with Close being one of the modern world’s greatest and most renowned artists, it’s wonderful to see this exhibition has presented so much of Close’s work and tools in a very plain and simple way that focuses attention on the pieces themselves. One of the best art events of this year’s summer season, Chuck Close; Prints, Process and Collaboration is a magnificent look through the eyes of one of the art world’s most renowned figures. – Joseph Papandrea
Chuck Close; Prints, Process and Collaboration will be running at the Museum of Contemporary Art until 15 March 2015. For more information click here.
Photos by Joseph Papandrea.