The Many Faces of Chuck Close

A recommendation: Before you go see the Corcoran’s Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration –and you really should, the guy’s a genius–listen to this recent interview with Close and his biographer on the PBS NewsHour.

Close discusses the many learning and physical disabilities he’s grappled with since childhood, including “face blindness,” which severely limits his ability to remember faces. Ironic, of course, because his oeuvre is faces, flattened out, disassembled into small bits and recreated as paintings and prints.

In the PBS clip, he explains how this process allows him to commit to memory the faces of those closest to him– his daughter (Georgia, pictured above), his wife, his fellow artists. These are the subjects he chooses; he does no commissioned art.

While the Corcoran show left me more impressed than ever with Close’s versatility and work ethic, mostly I thought about the intimacy of his portraits, and the statement (of love or friendship) he makes when he chooses a subject.

In the exhibit notes, Close says it’s often difficult for his subjects to accept a final portrait, to see themselves as Close sees them. But really, what greater gift could one ask for than a friend/lover/father wanting to remember your face?

Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration runs through September 12, 2010, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

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