Graphic Art exhibition on display

Take a ‘Closer’ look at graphic art through Jan. 26 at The Bruce Museum’s exhibition Closer: The Graphic Art of Chuck Close.

According to the museum, with a body of work composed almost entirely of portraits, the American artist Chuck Close has been “astounding the country with his artistic verisimilitude for more than four decades.” His prints, especially, are adventures in problem solving.

Working from the particularities of each print medium — woodcut, etching, silkscreen, linocut, aquatint, pulp-paper multiple — he gives his imagination free rein to reconceive their aesthetic possibilities.

Although a spirit of experimentation characterizes Mr. Close’s work across all media, it is particularly evident in the wide-ranging scope of his printed production.

“Any innovation that is evident in my paintings is a direct result of something that happened in the course of making a print,” Mr. Close said.

Despite learning disabilities, including dyslexia, he cultivated his artistic talents from a young age.

Mr. Close announced his arrival on the contemporary art scene with his large-scale, black and white airbrushed heads, paintings based on photographs he had transferred to canvas by means of a grid.

Recognition came quickly — his work was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 1969, followed by a solo exhibition at New York’s Bykert Gallery in 1970 and a one-man show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1971.

In 1972 Mr. Close created the first print of his professional career, a mezzotint, which began a life-long engagement with the aesthetics and technology of printmaking.

The collaborative nature of this work has been vital to the artist’s creative process. Working with master printers, Mr. Close alters one or several variables to create endless permutations in a wide variety of print techniques, usually recycling past portraits of himself, his family and his friends.

On Dec. 7, 1988, Mr. Close suffered a spinal artery collapse, which initially left him paralyzed from the neck down. After arduous rehabilitation, he resumed work with his customary intensity.

“The great curse for artists is ease,” Mr. Close said, adding, “resistance is really an important thing.”

Closer: The Graphic Art of Chuck Close is accompanied by a generously illustrated catalogue by the same title. A lecture series and film series will also complement the exhibition.

This exhibition, which opened on Sept. 28, is on view in the main Love, Newman/Wild Galleries through Jan. 5, 2014. The portion on view in the Lecture Gallery continues through Jan. 26.

For additional information, call the museum at 203-869-0376 or visit Brucemuseum.org.

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