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Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration

April 16 ­ August 7, 2005

Mint Museum of Art


For more than 30 years, Chuck Close -- renowned as one of America's foremost artists in any media -- has explored the art of printmaking in his continuing investigation into the principles of perception. This exhibition provides a comprehensive survey of the full extent of Close's long involvement with the varied forms and processes of printmaking, and is the first comprehensive exploration of what can only be termed a prodigious accomplishment in the field.

Featuring works dating from 1972 to 2002, Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration illustrates the artist's range of invention in etching, aquatint, lithography, handmade paper, direct gravure, silkscreen, traditional Japanese woodcut, and reduction linocut. Highlighting the creative processes and technical collaboration between the artist and the master printers, the exhibition demonstrates how Close has consistently but variously challenged the accepted boundaries of the printmaking tradition. Taken together, these prints constitute a remarkable self-portrait of the creative drive, vision and intellect of one of America's most important living artists. (right: Chuck Close ( 1940 - ), Self-Portrait, 1992, Spit-bite etching, Edition of 70, 23 5/16 x 19 15/16 x 1 inches, Printer: Spring Street Workshop, New York, Publisher: Pace Editions, Inc., New York. Courtesy of Pace Editions, Inc. and the artist)

In Close's work, the topology of the human face becomes a series of gridded abstractions that, when assembled in the eye of the viewer, create an imagistic whole. Celebrated as a quintessential painter and photographer, Close has also mastered the unique artistic language of printmaking, a process that requires a special degree of trust and cooperation between the artist and the technician. The featured images that comprise the exhibition-self-portraits and portraits of subjects familiar across the spectrum of his artistic production-encompass the major forms of printmaking.

From the artist's ambitious first mezzotint, Keith (1972), to his recent pulp-paper multiples, this exhibition chronicles the genius of Chuck Close in the medium in which he has done his most exciting work. While the production of a painting can occupy Close for many months, it is not unusual for one print to take more than two years to complete, from conception to final edition. The relationship between Close and the master printers is key to the success of his prints, as the artist insists on a decidedly interactive approach to their creation. Close has remarked, "Like any corporation, I have the benefit of the brainpower of everyone who is working for me My prints have been truly collaborative, even though control is something that I give up reluctantly."

Terrie Sultan, director of Blaffer Gallery [1], writes in her introduction to the exhibition catalogue, "This project is entitled Process and Collaboration because those two words are essential to any conversation with Close about his prints. The creative process is as important to him as the finished product, and these works strive to reveal the routes taken to get to them. Showing the progressive and state proofs here along with the editioned works demystifies the artist's decision-making process, allowing us to visualize how these complex images are made, how he was thinking when he made the mark."

Following its presentation in Charlotte, the exhibition will travel to Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, CA; Bellevue Art Museum, WA; and Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA.

Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration was organized by Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston. The exhibition and publication have been generously underwritten by the Neuberger Berman Foundation. The exhibition was made possible, in part, by major grants from the Lannan Foundation and Jon and Mary Shirley, and by generous grants from The Eleanor and Frank Freed Foundation and Houston Endowment Inc. Financial support has also been provided by Jonathan and Marita Fairbanks, Dorene and Frank Herzog, Andrew and Gretchen McFarland, Carey Shuart and The Wortham Foundation, Inc., with additional funds from Karen and Eric Pulaski, Suzanne Slesin and Michael Steinberg, and Texas Commission on the Arts.


1. Blaffer Gallery is the University of Houston's laboratory for the visual arts and contemporary culture. Terrie Sultan was appointed Director of Blaffer Gallery in June, 2000. She came to Houston from Washington, D.C., where she had worked for the previous twelve years as Curator of Contemporary Art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. During her tenure there, she organized more than 40 exhibitions, including four Biennial Exhibitions of Contemporary American Painting, and published just as many books, catalogues and articles. Prior to joining the staff at the Corcoran, Ms. Sultan was director of public affairs and public programs at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York from1986­88, and adjunct curator for contemporary art at the Oakland Museum in California from 1984­85. Sultan received a BFA in Fine Arts from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, and an MA from the Center for Museum Studies at John F. Kennedy University in San Francisco, California. (information excerpted from web site for Blaffer Gallery)

RL readers may also enjoy these earlier articles and essay:

and these videos:


Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress. The world of contemporary artist Chuck Close is explored in this WNET/Thirteen 57 minute Marion Cajori 1998 behind-the-scenes look at his life and work. Traces the evolution of painter Chuck Close from his first series of black and white heads -- exhibited in 1969. Documents his recovery from a 1988 spinal injury and shows his acheivements since the injury. Follows Close into the contemporary art community of New York where he encounters Leslie Close, Philip Glass, Mark Greenwood, Alex Katz, Dorothea Rockburne, Kiki Smith and Robert Storr From MUSE Film and Television. Also available as a DVD.




Chuck Close: Close Up is a 28 minute L&S video created and produced by Linda Freeman and written and directed by David Irving. Chuck Close paints oversized, closely cropped images. "As an artist I am interested in the face," says Close. Working from photographs and employing a grid system, he transfers these images to giant canvases. Partially paralyzed and with learning disabilities, Chuck Close's story is one of motivation and determination. He is a great American Artist who continually reinvents himself. 






rev. 5/13/05

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