Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration

A few weeks ago I saw the exhibit Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.  The exhibit includes more than one hundred of Close’s finished works, grids, and proofs, revealing his process of experimentation and creation.  Close was born in Monroe, Washington in 1940. He graduated from the University of Washington (BFA, art) in 1962 and from Yale (MFA, art) in 1964.  In the 1960s he chose to buck the prevailing artistic trend of abstract expressionism and create large scale portraits of himself as well as his friends and family.  I learned from our docent that Chuck Close has prosopagnosia, or face blindness.  This means he cannot recognize people by their features.  It was this disorder that first inspired Close to create his huge portraits.  Close has created his portraits using many kinds of mediums, such as photography, painting, and collage.  However, this exhibit focuses on his work as a printmaker.  Close uses a variety of printmaking techniques, including woodcut, silk screen, aquatint, and spitbite etching.

As is noted in the title, collaboration is a major part of Chuck Close’s work.  Often his fellow artists pick up themes that Close creates and re-interprets them in new mediums.  For example, Close’s friend created a blanket using the pattern from one of Close’s prints.  A video at the end of the exhibit shows how a team of Close’s studio assistants worked together to create a print, recalling the workshop process of Renaissance artists.

The exhibit will be the Corcoran until September 26th, and is definitely worth checking out.

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