RENO, NEV.- The Nevada Museum of Art
announces Faces: Chuck Close and Contemporary Portraiture as its summertime feature exhibition, offered as part of Artown, a local, month-long celebration of cultural-diversity and artistic innovation. Faces will be on exhibit at the Museum from June 27 through October 18, 2009. The exhibit invites visitors to take a giant step into the life of the modern portrait and examine works as large as eight feet by four feet in size.
Drawn from the private holdings of San Francisco collectors Doris and Donald Fisher, Faces features 11 portraits by Close, a leading figure in contemporary American art for nearly 40 years. Other highlights of the exhibition include works by some of the worlds best known and most respected artists such as Cindy Sherman, Shirin Neshat, Jim Dine, Gerhard Richter and Andy Warhol. Intended to examine a wide range of artistic approaches to capturing the myriad expression of the human face, Faces will also challenge the idea of what constitutes a portrait.
Beginning in the mid-twentieth century, many artists began to reconsider the conventional function of the portrait, said Ann M. Wolfe, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, Nevada Museum of Art. Artists such as Jim Dine, John Baldesarri and Sam Taylor-Wood are noted for the innovative ways they consider issues of identity, autobiography and narrative in their works.
Celebrated for his successful efforts to reinvigorate the field of modern portraiture, Close is best known for the monumental faces he has painted, photographed and most recently woven into tapestries. Close has developed a formal methodology based on color and structural analysis that radically departs from traditional modes of portraiture. In a number of works on exhibit viewers can learn about neo-pointillism through Closes distinct style of capturing the relationship between representation and abstraction. Using a grid system to construct his large scale paintings, Close creates what appear to be small abstract paintings within each segment of a grid. These units, each with detailed bits of visual information, create strikingly real resemblances of his subjects when viewed together in a larger context.
Also included in the exhibit are five tapestries Closes newest mode of portraiture that presents photo-realistic images of himself and other sitters woven into tapestries. The tapestries demonstrate Closes signature tension between abstracted units and a legible, unified surface and employ a process similar to that used for lithographs, etchings or print editions.
Working with Magnolia Editions, a company that produces limited-edition multiples, Close develops a photographic image directly onto a silver-coated plate, and then scans it at high resolution to create digital weave files. After a series of proofs are woven for each edition and Close has meticulously adjusted each pixel of the weave file, a final tapestry is woven on a customized seven-foot wide Jacquard loom in Belgium.
Portraiture has long been an important mode of representational art and has a long history. Archaeological evidence reveals that the earliest extant portraits date to the Egyptian era, when the likeness of the human face was commonly used on funerary sculptures. Portraiture continued to flourish from the Roman period through the Renaissance as artists were commissioned to paint flattering images of their wealthy clients. However, around the 1950s, the portrait was re-invented and the face was used in humorous or comical ways. Issues of personal identity began to be addressed and portraits were used to explore deeply personal and autobiographical narratives.
One highlight of the exhibition is a selection of photographs by renowned American artist Cindy Sherman, who is known for her conceptual exploration issues related to feminist identity. Sherman is best known for her self-portraits in which she dresses in a range of costumes to address female stereotypesher iconic photograph that she took of the herself costumed as Marie Antoinette is included in the exhibition. Iranian photographer Shirin Neshat, who is also featured in the exhibition, creates oversized portraits that examine the social, political and psychological dimensions of human experience in contemporary Islamic societies. Neshat was awarded the First International Prize, at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999. The exhibition also includes work by Gerhard Richter, one of Germanys most acclaimed contemporary artists. Richters painting, Blood Red (1991), from the Mirror series, features a large-scale red panel that reflects whatever is held before itwhich is usually a portrait reflection of the viewer peering at it in the gallery.