Close Reading: Chuck Close and the Art of the Self-Portrait

Martin Friedman, Author ABRAMS $45 (343p) ISBN 978-0-8109-5920-0
""Inspiration is for amateurs,"" according to Chuck Close, one of the most influential and pioneering figurative painters of our time, because ""waiting around to be hit on the head by a lightning bolt, you get nothing done.... Ideas flow out of the working process, out of what you have already done."" Friedman, former director of the Walker Art Center and longtime friend of Close, offers revealing details of the artist's life including excerpts from personal conversations between the two (friends for nearly four decades), an examination of how Close perfected the technique for his epic-scale portraits and discussions with 10 distinguished artists (and Close subjects) including Jasper Johns, Franceso Clemente and Kiki Smith. Using accessible prose, Friedman offers personal glimpses into everything from the atmosphere of Close's studio (a simply furnished, relaxed setting punctured by many interruptions from the outside world) to his blunt reaction to critics' attempts to understand the psychology behind his self-portraiture. ""Close grandly finesses the personal issue by maintaining that all of his paintings, irrespective of their subjects, are in essence self-portraits,"" writes Friedman, who clearly has his doubts. This thoughtful and engaging tome on one of America's most influential and most collectable artists is a must-read for the collector, casual devotee and student.
Reviewed on: 10/31/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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