A Visit With Art-World Hero Chuck Close

Getting some face time, as he gears up for his new fall show

Chock-full of work made for the long-awaited October 19 exhibition (his last New York solo show of paintings was in 2009), the space holds the results of the past few years of intense, methodical effort. "I make about three pieces a year," the artist says. Leaning against the walls are a number of "heads" Close has mostly painted for decades. There are likenesses of the artists Laurie Anderson and Kara Walker, the art collector Aggie Gund, the singer Paul Simon, and the composer Philip Glass; an unfinished painting of Cindy Sherman sits on Close's motorized easel. While pointing to prints and other works bound for the exhibition, Close genially explains his working method with a sports analogy. "What I do is like golf—I move from general to specific in an ideal number of correcting moves," he says as we scan the different-colored, mosaic-like squares making up Glass's head. "At the start, you can't even see the green, but you get to the ninth hole eventually."

Like golf: Chuck Close in his studio
Christopher Farber
Like golf: Chuck Close in his studio


Much later, after I've left the studio and am kicking my familiar Brooklyn sidewalks, it occurs to me that Chuck Close had just revealed to me how he taught himself to paint again. "Every stroke," he'd said, summing up his life and generous career, "is a leap of faith."

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