From a giant puzzle to drawing stations, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art is offering interactive insight not only into a visionary American artist but also into an art form that remains mysterious to many people.
“Chuck Close: Works on Paper” showcases the many inventive printmaking techniques the National Medal of Arts recipient has used to depict human faces, including the celebrity ones of actor Brad Pitt, model Kate Moss and composer Philip Glass, along with Close's now-famous self-portrait.
The exhibit, which comes from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation, closes Sunday at the museum.
The exhibit of 88 portraits represents an excellent career overview for “the foremost living contemporary American artist,” said Michael Whittington, museum president and CEO.
“This is the first time that the work of Chuck Close has been presented in Oklahoma in such a comprehensive fashion.”
Close, 73, has been a leading figure in contemporary art for the past four decades. The Monroe, Wash., native came to the fore in the early 1970s with the rise of photorealism. In 1972, the painter delved into printmaking, which, in its most basic forms, involves transferring ink onto paper using a plate run through a press or squeezing ink through a screen onto paper.
“We have a variety of prints … but to just describe them as prints is to do a grave injustice to this exhibition. It's like describing a Maserati as just a car. What Chuck Close has done is he has taken the standard printmaking techniques, and he has reached stratospheric levels in his sophistication and accomplishment,” Whittington said.
“So he's stretching the boundaries of the mediums he's using.”
“Works on Paper” showcases Close's interest and achievement in an array of printmaking techniques, including etchings, linoleum cuts, lithographs, screen prints, woodcuts and paper pulp multiples. There's even a tapestry, the one piece in the exhibit that isn't on paper.
“It's really integrating weaving techniques with digital technology, transferring the image to a mechanical loom,” said Jennifer Klos, Oklahoma City Museum of Art curator.
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