This exhibition was a comprehensive survey of the work of Chuck Close as a printmaker and collaborator with master printers spanning more than 30 years.
Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration contained prints and multiples produced since 1972 by Chuck Close (b. 1940), one of America’s most renowned living artists. Close first received critical acclaim in the late 1960s for his large-scale, ultra-realistic paintings on the subject of the human face. The artist prefers to call them “heads,” emphasizing his interest in analyzing the form of the subject rather than creating an emotional identification through the face.
The paintings in this exhibition were made by manually transferring gridded sections of a photographic portrait, cell by cell, onto a canvas bearing a corresponding grid.
While his earliest paintings were faithful to the photographic original, in 1972 Close’s introduction to the collaborative processes of printmaking led him to experiment with the marks contained within each gridded cell, sometimes challenging the boundary between realism and abstraction. Although they evoke the pixilation of digitized imagery, his prints are all made by hand, a result of careful planning and execution with a team of print specialists. In the finished heads, Close offers what he calls “road maps of human experience,” translations of photographic information into a metaphorical language that conveys the interaction of sight, touch, and time.
Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration was organized by Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston. The exhibition and publication were generously underwritten by the Neuberger Berman Foundation. Additional support was made possible by the Lannan Foundation, Jon and Mary Shirley, The Eleanor and Frank Freed Foundation and Houston Endowment Inc., Jonathan and Marita Fairbanks, Dorene and Frank Herzog, Andrew and Gretchen McFarland, Carey Shuart, The Wortham Foundation, Inc., Karen and Eric Pulaski, Suzanne Slesin and Michael Steinberg, and Texas Commission on the Arts.