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Chuck Close, Karl Hecksher, Pace Editions, Inc.
43-color handprinted woodcut, Nishinouchi paper
Image: 22 1/8 × 17 3/4 inches (56.2 × 45.1 cm)Sheet: 31 × 25 inches (78.7 × 63.5 cm)Framed: 33 1/4 × 27 5/8 inches (84.5 × 70.2 cm)
Credit Line
Kirk Varnedoe Collection, Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia, Gift of Chuck and Leslie Close in memory of Kirk Varnedoe.
Accession Number
Painter, printmaker, and collage artist Chuck Close has specialized in massive photo-grid portrait heads since the 1970s. Using his friends, family, fellow artists, and (most frequently) himself as subjects, Close takes large Polaroid photographs of his sitters, places a grid over the photograph, then painstakingly transfers the image onto a large canvas, sheet of paper, or print matrix. Often indistinguishable from photographs, his works are created by a variety of techniques, including woodblock printing, etching, thumbprints, watercolor, and oil paint. Close’s time-consuming process can take several months for an oil painting and up to two years for a finished print. The results are intimate, non-idealized renderings that are technically adept and psychologically insightful.

This Chuck Close self-portrait is on a smaller scale than is typical of the artist’s oeuvre. It was created by the complex Japanese method of ukiyo-e woodcut printing, in which a separate wood block is carved for each color in the print. The result is a colorful grid that can in one moment appear as both abstract and as the height of photorealism.