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Lucas I

Chuck Close (American, born Monroe, Washington, 1940)

Date:
1986–87
Medium:
Oil and graphite on canvas
Dimensions:
100 x 84 in. (254 x 213.4 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift and Gift of Arnold and Milly Glimcher, 1987
Accession Number:
1987.282
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2003 Chuck Close
  • Description

    Associated with the Photo- or Super-Realist movement of the late-1960s and 1970s, the American artist Chuck Close initially became known for the minutely detailed portrait heads he painted on a monumental scale in black, white, and gray. These works, which were based on photographs, were factually rendered but magnified every pore and imperfection to unexpected and unnatural proportions. The subjects for all of Close's portraits are drawn from his wide circle of relatives and friends, many of whom are connected to the art world as artists, dealers, and collectors. Their identification in the titles by their first names only lends a casual informality to otherwise imposing images.


    Paintings such as "Lucas," which depicts fellow artist Lucas Samaras, are representative of Close's later, more colorful and painterly style. They go beyond the hyper-reality of his earlier portraits and elaborate on his pictorial investigation of the act of perception, breaking down the visual information into component parts that describe the actual process of seeing, not just the end result. To create these portraits, Close begins by taking photographs of the sitter, then draws a grid over the photo, from which he methodically reproduces the contents of each tiny square on a magnified scale with small dashes, dots of pigment, thumbprints, or applied pieces of colored paper. Viewed close-up, the elements of the picture are seen as separate abstract markings; from a distance, they coalesce into an illusionistic portrait. In order to assimilate all of the multi-hued daubs of color on an eight-foot-plus canvas, the viewer is forced to stand quite a distance from the work. From this perspective, the subject stares coolly, anonymously, and unwaveringly at the viewer.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: Signed and dated (on reverse): "LUCAS" -1986-7 c C.Close 1987

  • Exhibition History

    New York. The Pace Gallery. "Chuck Close Recent Paintings," September 23–October 22, 1988.

    Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden Baden. "Chuck Close Retrospective," April 10–June 22, 1994, pl. 15 ill. in color.

    Munich. Lenbachhaus Kunstbau. "Chuck Close Retrospective," July 13–September 11, 1994, pl. 15.

    Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Chuck Close," February 26–May 26, 1998 ill. p. 171 (color).

    Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. "Chuck Close," June 20–September 13, 1998.

    Washington DC. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. "Chuck Close," October 15, 1998–January 10, 1999.

    Seattle Art Museum. "Chuck Close," February–May 5, 1999.

  • References

    Lisa Messinger. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection: 1987 88." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 52 (Fall 1988), p. 63 (color).

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 2012, ill. p. 431 (color).

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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