Press Release

PAFA Presents Chuck Close Photographs

PAFA Presents Chuck Close Photographs

First major exhibition in Philadelphia of this renowned artist

October 6, 2017 - April 8, 2018

PHILADELPHIA (August 17, 2017) — The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) presents Chuck Close Photographs, the first major exhibition in Philadelphia of the renowned American artist’s work. On view October 6, 2017 to April 8, 2018 at PAFA, 128 North Broad Street in Philadelphia, the exhibition traces Close’s use of the camera throughout his more than 50-year career and features a variety of photographic media.

The exhibition features 90 images from 1964 to the present, showing the full range of the artist’s exploration of photography — from early black-and-white maquettes of the 1970s, to monumental composite Polaroids, to intimately scaled daguerreotypes and Woodburytypes, and the most recent Polaroid nudes.

While known primarily as a painter, Close has been deeply engaged in both photography and fine art printmaking throughout his career. He used the camera to record details that the human eye couldn’t capture. By drawing a grid on the photograph, he could transfer the image to the canvas. He called these photographs “maquettes” -- small scale “sketches” from which he could make a monumental painting.

“Remarkably there has never been a major exhibition in Philadelphia of the work of Chuck Close. Given his international artistic impact, PAFA is proud to be the first to do so,” said David R. Brigham, PAFA President and CEO.

Born in Monroe, Washington in 1940, Close received his BFA and MFA from Yale University in the 1960s. After his first experiment with a nude based on a photograph, the 21-foot-wide painting Big Nude (1967), he decided he needed a more neutral subject and switched his focus to faces. Big Self-Portrait (1968), based on a Polaroid taken by Close, was the first of what he called “heads” —  to make clear that they were not portraits trying to interpret or convey a subject’s personality — and the beginning of his invention with the standard format Polaroid camera.

In 1977, Close was introduced to a 24 x 20 inch Polaroid camera and found the size and clarity of the images to be a revelation. By 1979, he began experimenting with multiple exposures of a single subject; the results changed forever the way he thought about photography. These images, the first that Close considered works of art in and of themselves, marked a point of departure from the portrait as his exclusive subject matter as he expanded into the genres of nudes and flowers, creating multi-paneled works of a grand scale. In 1999, Close was introduced to the historic technique of the daguerreotype, and began creating small scale works of single and multiple panels that included nudes, flowers, hands, and fruit.

“By charting the course of the artist’s long career using a broad array of photographic media, Chuck Close Photographs shows the full range of his curiosity and spirit of exploration and innovation,” said Brooke Davis Anderson, the Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum.

Chuck Close Photographs was organized by the Parrish Art Museum. The exhibition is made possible, in part, by the generous support of the Lannan Foundation; Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation; Louise and Leonard Riggio; The Muriel F. Siebert Foundation; Pace Gallery, New York; Amanda and Glenn Fuhrman; Jennifer Rice and Michael Forman; Marie Josee & Henry R. Kravis; The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; Joseph M. Cohen; Andrea Krantz and Harvey Sawikin; Gretchen and Andrew McFarland; Arthur Loeb Foundation; and those who wish to remain anonymous. Chuck Close Photographs is made possible at PAFA by a gift from Marsha and Jeffrey Perelman, and by PAFA Season Exhibition Sponsor Jonathan L. Cohen.

Last Updated
March 26, 2018 - 2:44 PM

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.