Chuck Close reveals his magic in White Cube print show

Mar 11, 2013

Major survey of prints by reveals new dimension to American photographer's iconic portraits

Donald Farnswoth, Magnolia Editions, Oakland, CA (Courtesy Pace Gallery and White Cube)

Kara / Felt Hand Stamp, 2012 © Chuck Close

What you need to know
A major exhibition of prints by the legendary American photographer and portrait artist Chuck Close, Prints: Process and Collaboration, has opened at the White Cube, Bermondsey, London. Close is best known for his large-scale photo-realist and grid paintings, particularly of his famous friends including Lou Reed, Philip Glass and Roy Lichtenstein.

Close suffered a spinal artery collapse in 1988, which left him partially paralysed. He also suffers from prosopagnosia – an inability to identify faces. He developed a meticulous technique of creating likenesses of people's faces by using extreme close-up photos divided into grid sections.

This exhibition is a 40-year survey of Close's art in collaboration with master printers working in a range of styles, including etchings, hand-loomed silk tapestries and traditional woodcuts. Until 21 April.

What the critics like
The "close-up king" has worked his magic to create "an excellent, museum quality show", says Ben Luke in the Evening Standard. "Close is so curious about printing techniques and so ambitious in translating images with them that this is as substantial as any show of his work I've seen".

This huge survey of Close's graphic oeuvre shows us a new, more interesting dimension to his work, says Michael Glover in The Independent. It reveals how the artist thinks and works. Close is always trying something new – "even some of his accidents come good in the end".

By reworking the same subjects and showing the various stages of a print, Close becomes "a magician revealing his tricks", says Steve Pill in Metro. His circumstances "make this dedication all the more impressive".

What they don't like
A few tapestries are the only disappointment, says Ben Luke in the Evening Standard. Translating photographs into lush textiles is clearly complicated and they lack Close's finest touch.

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