Pace Galleries

Chuck Close

Selected Paintings and Tapestries 2005–2009

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About Chuck Close

Chuck Close (b. 1940, Monroe, Washington) is renowned for his innovative conceptual portraiture. He began creating photorealist portraits from photographs in the late 1960s, using a grid to map each facial detail. In the late 1970s, he began shifting away from this approach, creating images with layers of autonomous shapes and colors that cohere into his subject’s face when viewed from a distance. Constantly revitalizing his practice, Close works across a variety of media, extending beyond painting to encompass printmaking, photography, collage, and tapestries based on Polaroids.

In 2000, Close was presented with the prestigious National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, has served on the board of many arts organizations, and, in 2010, was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. In 2016, he created twelve large-scale mosaic portraits for New York’s 86th Street subway station at Second Avenue.

Pace has represented Chuck Close since 1977.

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Press Release

  • Chuck Close: Selected Paintings and Tapestries, 2005-2009
    PaceWildenstein, which has represented Chuck Close for more than thirty years, is pleased to present Chuck Close: Selected Paintings and Tapestries, 2005-2009 from May 1 through June 20, 2009 at 534 West 25th Street, New York City. This is the first New York exhibition in four years to feature the artist’s paintings, and the first to include a large selection of his tapestries. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, April 30th from 6-8 p.m. Chuck Close: Selected Paintings and Tapestries, 2005-2009 features seven oil on canvas paintings measuring between 72" x 60" and 108-1/2" x 84". The exhibition includes a new self-portrait and two portraits of artist Zhang Huan, one rendered in black and white and the other in color. Other subjects include artist James Siena, Close’s daughters Georgia and Maggie, who have been portrayed by the artist in various mediums since 1984, and President Bill Clinton, a 2006 painting on loan from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. In addition to his large-scale painting, it is widely known that for several decades Close has employed a range of printmaking and photography methods in his continuous investigations of the human face. As early as 1991, Close also began working with another medium to create a woven portrait of one of his favorite subjects, the composer Philip Glass, in China. In 2004, thirteen years later, the artist returned to the medium, this time working with a Jacquard loom in Belgium. These Jacquard tapestries, woven between 2004 and 2009, originate from recent daguerreotype or Polaroid portraits of Ellen Gallagher, Philip Glass, Lyle Ashton Harris, Brad Pitt, Andres Serrano, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson as well as two self-portraits; one is a 15' horizontal work featuring five consecutive views of Close, offering a near panoramic, new viewpoint of the artist’s frequently rendered visage. Writer and curator Lilly Wei, who contributed an essay to the accompanying exhibition catalogue, remarks, “Close takes modern technology—the camera, the computer and other means of mechanical, digitalized reproduction—and makes it serve traditional art forms…his own hand matters to him; if he works with a tapestry manufacturer, a master printer, or experiments with daguerreotypes, he still controls every aspect of the production and results.” The loom is an ancient tool that has been used to create rugs and tapestries in many cultures and in such diverse countries as China and Belgium. The Jacquard punch system for use in making tapestries, presented (by most accounts) in 1801, revolutionized the medium while at the same time providing the basis for the development of computer technology in the mid-20th century. Working with this process in contemporary times allows Close to utilize the technology of a computer to alter combinations of different colored threads to fit his exact specifications for each tapestry; the weaving process for the color tapestries involves thousands of strands of archival colored thread. The grisaille tapestries are woven with hundreds of different hues. Using this medium, Close can faithfully reproduce the complexity and richness of the daguerreotypes, with their many highlights and reflections since the loom and the computer have an analogous language. Remarking on the incremental nature of Close’s work, Wei notes that “it is not surprising that he finds painting and weaving to be much the same.” Wei further concludes, “Grids, serialization, and expansive size have been rejiggered by Close to create something notably different from the pure products of the Minimalist canon, and his exaggerated scale—he also works with more intimate dimensions—acts as an upending of Abstract Expressionist sublimity, puncturing any such pretensions lingering in the discourse. Close prefers to build up incrementally, to slow the process down and revel in it.” In conjunction with PaceWildenstein’s exhibition, Pace/MacGill, 32 East 57th Street, will present Chuck Close: Maquettes and Multi-Part Work (1966-2009), a selection of daguerreotypes, digital prints, maquettes and Polaroids from May 7 through June 6, 2009. More information is available at www.pacemacgill.com. The artist will also be the subject of an upcoming museum exhibition entitled Familiar Faces: Chuck Close in Ohio Collections at the Akron Art Museum, Ohio from September 5, 2009 through January 3, 2010. Chuck Close’s drawings, paintings, photographs and prints have been the focus of more than one hundred and forty solo exhibitions in over twenty countries, including numerous surveys organized by public institutions. Last year, Chuck Close: Seven Portraits was on view at The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia as part of the museum’s Hermitage 20/21 project. The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid recently organized Chuck Close Paintings: 1968/2006, the first retrospective of works by Close in Spain. The exhibition traveled to the Ludwig Forum for International Art in Aachen, Germany. Another important traveling retrospective was presented by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis in 2005-2006 entitled Chuck Close: Self Portraits 1967-2005 (2005-2006). Other venues included The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. Chuck Close: Work by Christopher Finch, a comprehensive monograph, was published by Prestel in 2007. The same year the Film Forum, New York, premiered a feature-length documentary: CHUCK CLOSE, An Astounding Portrait, produced and directed by Marion Cajori, which has since been screened at museums and theaters nationwide. Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration, organized by the Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston, is still traveling after a five-year, fifteen-venue tour throughout the United States and Asia. Previous retrospectives include: Close Portraits organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1980-81), with additional venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Chuck Close: Retrospektive organized by the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden (1994), which was later presented at the Lenbachhaus Städtische Galerie, Munich; and Chuck Close organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998-99), with subsequent venues at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Seattle Art Museum; and Hayward Gallery, London. Chuck Close (b. 1940, Monroe, WA) received his B.A. from the University of Washington, Seattle in 1962 before studying at Yale University School of Art and Architecture (B.F.A., 1963; M.F.A. 1964). Following graduation, Close was awarded a Fulbright grant and studied at the Akademie der Bildenen Kunste, Vienna; he began working from photographs at this time. In 1967, Close moved to New York City where, one year later, he began black and white portrait painting. Soon thereafter, his work was included in the 1969 Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at the Whitney Museum of American Art—marking his first inclusion in a museum exhibition—and in 1970, Close received his first solo show. Nearly ten years later, during the late 1970s, Close began oil paintings and photography-based portrait series. Since 1969 Close has participated in countless group exhibitions of international scope, including Documenta, Kassel, Germany (1972, 1977), the Tokyo Biennale (1974), the Corcoran Gallery of Art Biennial (1975, 2001), the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial (1969, 1977, 1979, 1991), the Venice Biennale (1993, 1995), and the Carnegie International (1995-96). Honored by numerous cultural institutions throughout the United States, Close has been the recipient of many distinctions, including: the International Center for Photography Annual Infinity Award for Art (1990), the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Medal (1991), the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Art (1991) and election as a member of the Academy the following year, the Academy of the Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts, Guild Hall of East Hampton, NY (1995), residency at The American Academy in Rome, Italy (1996), the New York State Governor’s Award (1997), election to Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1998), the Artist Advocate Award from the Alliance of New York State Arts Organizations (1999), the title of “Culture Laureate” by the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center (1999), the Independent Curators International Leo Award (2000), the National Medal of Arts from President Clinton (2000), Americans for the Arts Life Time Achievement Award, New York (2004), Gold medals from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy in Rome (2004), The National Arts Club gold medal (2005), and second prize at the World Press Photo contest (2008). This year, Close was honored with the Christopher Reeve Spirit of Courage Award from The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed him to The New York City Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission in 2003 and from 2000 to 2008 Close was a board member of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Close’s work can be found in over 65 major public collections worldwide, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; The Art Institute of Chicago; Australian National Gallery, Canberra; Carnegie Institute, Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; The Cleveland Museum of Art; Des Moines Art Center; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum moderner Kunst, Palais Liechtenstein, Vienna; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC; Osaka City Museum; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Seattle Art Museum; Staatliche Museum, Berlin; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, among others. PaceWildenstein has represented Chuck Close since 1977. Additional information for Chuck Close: Selected Paintings and Tapestries, 2005-2009 is available upon request by contacting Jennifer Benz Joy at jjoy@pacewildenstein.com or Lauren Staub at lstaub@pacewildenstein.com or calling 212.421.3292.
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Lily Wei

2009. PaceWildenstein. Paperback

40 pages: 32 color illustrations; 14 ¼ x 12 inches



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