Close Reading: Chuck Close and the Artist Portrait

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Harry N. Abrams, Nov 1, 2005 - Art - 344 pages
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Chuck Close has pioneered ideas of scale, form, and colour through the theme of portraiture, a genre that he has fundamentally redefined. Although Close has painted himself far more often than any of his other subjects, the majority of those other subjects have been fellow artists. This book details more than thirty years of Close's remarkable career, exploring the evolution of both his self-portraits and artist portraits and the compelling man behind them. Divided into three sections, the book's first section includes a comprehensive biography of Close that deals with his childhood and college years, his struggles with learning disabilities, the origins and perfecting of his near photographic painting technique, and his sudden illness in 1988, which led to almost complete paralysis, and the degree of recovery that enabled him to continue his painting career. The second section is an examination of his self-portraiture. The final section deals with the artist's paintings of fellow artists, including Cindy Sherman, Francesco Clemente, Jasper Johns, and William Wegman. The text includes Close's insightful comments about these works and interviews with the subjects.

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Close reading: Chuck Close and the art of the self-portrait

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"Inspiration is for amateurs," according to Chuck Close, one of the most influential and pioneering figurative painters of our time, because "waiting around to be hit on the head by a lightning bolt ... Read full review


Portrait of the Portraitist
The Day of Infamy

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About the author (2005)

Martin Friedman has served as a guest curator and advisor to a number of art museums since retiring as director of the Walker Art Center in 1990. During his more than 30-year tenure at the Walker, Friedman built a major collection of paintings and sculptures, created the world-famous Minneapolis Sculpture Garden adjacent to the museum, and originated numerous exhibitions of contemporary art. His friendship with Chuck Close goes back to 1969 when he acquired the now-iconic "Big Self-Portrait" from Close for the Walker's collection. In 1980 the museum organized the first Close retrospective, and in the mid-1990s Friedman began a series of discussions with the artist, out of which this book grew. He lives in New York.

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