Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chuck Close: ‘It Was Dumb to Paint’

Still from ‘Chuck Close: Why Portraits?’ 2010. (Courtesy San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)
Of all of the tributes to Chuck Close that we’ve seen today, in honor of his 72nd birthday, which included this image of Mr. Close finger painting a portrait of his grandmother-in-law on The Pace Gallery’s Facebook page, we also found amusing a short video of Mr. Close, posted by the San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Art, discussing why he chose to take up portraiture.
“It was dumb to paint, dumber to paint figuratively,” he says in the 2010 video, “and the dumbest, most moribund possible convention to deal with was the portrait.” Nonetheless, he decided to take up portraiture in a very big way. What inspired him? The words of “reigning critic” Clement Greenberg who said, according to Mr. Close, “There’s only one thing that can’t be done in art today, and that’s paint a portrait.”

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