“Chuck Close Photographs” Opens at The Parrish

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Chuck Close (American, born 1940) Self-Portrait/ Five Part, 2009, Jacquard tapestry, Edition of 6, 79 x 229 in. Private collection.

Chuck Close (American, born 1940) Self-Portrait/ Composite/ Nine Parts, 1979. Nine color Polaroid mounted on canvas. 82 x 68 inches. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Gift of Barbara and Eugene Schwartz

The Parrish Art Museum will debut an extensive survey of the photography of Chuck Close, one of the most important figures in contemporary art, opening this Sunday, May 10 with a reception at 11 a.m.

On view through July 26, the exhibition will feature some 90 images from 1964 to the present, showcasing an arc of the artist’s exploration of photography— from early black and white maquettes to monumental composite Polaroids and intimately scaled daguerreotypes and his most recent Polaroid nudes. The exhibition explores how Mr. Close has stretched the boundaries of photographic means, methods and approaches.

“The photographic origin of each Close painting is well known; however, Close’s exploration of the medium itself extends far beyond the use of photographs as a programmatic tool,” said Parrish Art Museum Director and exhibition co-organizer Terrie Sultan. “Whether he uses a photographic image as source material or as an end in and of itself, everything he creates begins with a photograph. “Chuck Close Photographs” provides an in-depth look at photography as the foundation of Close’s creative process.”

The exhibition builds on the Parrish Art Museum’s long history of working with Mr. Close, as Ms. Sultan also organized “Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration,” which has travelled to nearly 20 venues worldwide since 2003. “Chuck Close Photographs,” co-organized by Ms. Sultan and Colin Westerbeck, independent curator and photography scholar, traces Mr. Close’s use of the camera throughout his more than 45-year career and features a variety of photographic media.

The exhibition will begin with working and process materials like contact sheets, proof sheets, photo prints and maquettes—black and white or color photographs scored with ink and masking tape. “Contact Sheet of Details of Subject for Big Nude, 1967,” the inspiration for Mr. Close’s first large scale painting based on a photograph will be on view as will “Proof Sheet for Big Self Portrait, 1967,” and “Self-Portrait, 1968” – two significant pieces that served as the source material for “Big Self Portrait, 1968,” the artist’s first “head” portrait.

Polaroids, single and composite, are also a large part of the exhibition, including “Self Portrait, 1979,” and the iconic “Self-Portrait/Composite/Nine Parts, 1979.” “Jasper, 1997,” “Hillary Rodham Clinton, 1999.” and “Alec Baldwin, 2010,” among others, will also be on view. Large format 40 x 80 inch Polaroids like the five panel nudes “Bertrand II, 1984,” and “Laura I, 1984,” will also be on view.

Daguerreotypes, photographs made on silver plate through mercury vapor exposure was a technique Mr. Close focuses on later in his career. Daguerreotypes such as Kate Moss, 2003 show the same extreme level of detail on a small scale (8 ½ x 6 ½ inches) as Close’s 20 x 40 Polaroids of the late 1970s. Chuck Close Photographs also includes Kate Diptych, 2012 and Brad, 2012. Close created these recent works using another historic technique that has been rarely seen in decades, Woodburytypes—images formed by pressing colored gelatin onto a sheet of paper in a mold.

After its debut at The Parrish, “Chuck Close Photographs will travel to the University Museum of Contemporary Art at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, September 11 through December 6. It will also be on view later in 2016 at the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale, Florida June 5 through August 28.

For more information, visit parrishart.org. 

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