Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)
20 November 2014 to 15 March 2015
Chuck Close is renowned as one of America’s foremost artists. For more than forty years printmaking has formed the bedrock of his practice. This exhibition presented a comprehensive survey of the full extent of Close’s long involvement with the varied forms and processes of this medium. Featuring works ranging from the mezzotint Keith/Mezzotint (1972) to later large works such as Alex/Reduction Block (1993), through to a new series of Jacquard tapestries, Chuck Close: Prints, Process and Collaboration revealed the artist’s range of invention across a breadth of techniques including etching, aquatint, lithography, handmade paper, direct gravure, silkscreen, traditional Japanese woodcut and reduction linoleum block prints.
Exhibition curator Terrie Sultan worked alongside Close in making a selection of works that illuminates his commitment to artistic process and to his close partnerships with print studios including Magnolia Editions, Crown Point Press and Two Palms. Collaboration is crucial to the print process, with Close and printmakers working for up to two years on the completion of a print. Through this collaborative process the practices of these printmakers are extended by Close’s vision whilst Close is in turn guided by the expertise of his colleagues.
The subjects of Close’s portraiture are drawn from his friends, family and peers. He has also produced a number of self-portraits. The format of these images is quite removed from traditional portraiture, with a distinct absence of context or symbols to be decoded. The focus is instead upon the formal qualities of the image, and the ways in which faces, or ‘heads’ as Close refers to them, become topographies. When presented en masse as they are in this exhibition, the subtleties of the techniques used to produce these images comes to the fore.
Chuck Close: Prints, Process and Collaboration was the most expansive survey of Close’s work ever shown in the southern hemisphere and brought together works drawn from the artist’s own collection, as well of those of master printmakers, and of the National Gallery of Australia.
Chuck Close: Prints, Process and Collaboration was organised by Terrie Sultan, Director of the Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY, and was made possible, in part by generous underwriting by the Neuberger Berman Foundation and grants from the Lannan Foundation and the Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation.