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Center for the Visual Arts to Open Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration
Chuck Close, Emma/Woodcut, 2002. Pace Editions Ink, New York, printer (Yasu Shibata). Pace Editions, Inc., New York, publisher. Courtesy of Pace Editions, Inc. and the artist.

NASHVILLE, TN.- The work of Chuck Close, renowned as one of America’s foremost artists in any medium, will be featured in Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration, opening in the Frist Center for the Visual Arts’ Ingram Gallery June 26, 2009. The exhibition will remain on view through the summer and will close Sept. 13, 2009.

The exhibition, which includes more than 130 works, explores Close’s continuing investigation into the relationship between artistic process, vision and creativity. On view in this comprehensive survey will be prints that are widely regarded as masterworks of contemporary printmaking, as seen in such techniques as aquatint, lithography, pulp-paper multiples, direct gravure, silk screen, traditional Japanese woodcut and reduction linocut.

Close is internationally renowned for creating paintings and prints on the subject of the human face. By transferring gridded sections of a photograph square by square onto the canvas or paper, he explores the relationships between the whole and its parts. Each tiny square bears an abstract mark, which functions as an expression in its own right; when seen from a distance, these parts coalesce into a shimmering whole. This transformation emphasizes the gravitas and power of the carefully observed human face.

“Inviting feelings of pleasure and awe, works in this exhibition convey the sheer bravura of an extraordinary artist and human being, one who uses art to attain a deep understanding of the nature of visual experience,” said Frist Center Chief Curator Mark Scala in describing the artist and the exhibition.

Close began printmaking as a serious part of his artistic career in 1972. This survey shows his remarkable technical skill and the wide range of expressions that arise from his explorations of extreme scale, abstract mark making, and remarkably intricate combinations of color.

Close’s paintings are the result of laborious and time-consuming effort. While they often take months to complete, his prints may take as many as two years to complete. Collaborating with some of the world’s finest printers, the artist takes an interactive, “hands on” approach to the creation of his prints, carving linoleum blocks, drawing on and applying acid to his etching plates and personally directing the intricate handwork involved in the creation of the prints. The exhibition also celebrates his collaborators, the master printers into whose hands Close commits and entrusts his work.

The exhibition is divided into broad categories. The first gallery introduces visitors to the basic principles of printmaking and includes Close’s earliest prints, which set the tone for the collaborative and experimental approach that characterizes his career. As visitors move through the exhibition, they will see how Close has used the portrait as a “constant” in his career; one gallery features only self-portraits, while others focus on images of his art world contemporaries such as Philip Glass—a favorite subject for more than 30 years—Alex Katz, John Chamberlain and Lucas Samaras. These famous artists are portrayed in a range of mediums, colors and types of marks that create an astonishing encyclopedia of visual effects. Additional galleries explore Close’s pulp-paper works, various silk screen techniques and explore his work with master printmakers.

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