“That is the great thing about the maquettes. You see the decisions that I made, where those lines fall … And if someone were going to take a lot of time analyzing them I think they would find that there’s a method in the madness.” --Chuck Close, 2013
Spanning the artist’s career to date, Chuck Close Photo Maquettes was the first exhibition to focus solely on his maquettes and their relationship to his large-scale painted portraits. As curator Kristy Bryce noted “this show allowed a deeper understanding of the technical process behind Close’s work while also opening an important line of enquiry into the relationship between the distinct practices of painting and photography.”
The photographs are overlaid with a grid and translated, cell by cell, into the final painted portrait by hand. This painstaking process emphasizes the distinctly analogue nature of the finished product and focuses attention on the complex relationship between photography and painting, between the mechanical and the hand-made.
Chuck Close Photo Maquettes included images of many close friends and fellow artists, including the composer Philip Glass, artist Elizabeth Murray, and the art collector and philanthropist Agnes Gund. Self-portraiture has always been an important area of exploration in Close’s work, and this exhibition brought together eleven self-portraits from as early as 1975 to more recent examples from 2011.
A fully illustrated catalogue accompanied the exhibition, with a new essay by art historian and artist Jonathan Weinberg.