Ever since Chuck Close was accused of sexual harassment in 2017, the painter — who died 4 years later — has largely been sidelined by the artwork world, together with his work not often showing in solo museum and gallery exhibits.
But his longtime gallerist, Arne Glimcher, has at all times stood by Close, and now he has organized at Pace Gallery in Chelsea what he says would be the artist’s first main exhibition in New York since 2016, giving him the send-off and closure Glimcher believes he deserves.
“For over 40 years we have shown every cycle of Chuck’s work,” Glimcher, the founder and chairman of Pace, stated in an interview. “It’s a very important exhibition because it’s the synthesis of everything he did.
“To complete the arc of all these exhibitions and catalogs is crucial,” Glimcher added. “This is one of the great painters of the 20th and 21st centuries — his influence is still enormous. There was no such thing as portraiture when he broke all of the rules and made these great pictures of people. It would be criminal not to have this last body of work in the history of his career.”
Close, who within the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s made colossal photorealist portraits of himself and others, died at 81 of cardiopulmonary failure. The artist, who had used a wheelchair since 1988 due to a collapsed spinal artery that originally left him paralyzed from the neck down, in 2013 obtained a analysis of Alzheimer’s illness, which was amended to frontotemporal dementia in 2015.
The allegations in opposition to Close stem from 2017, when two girls advised The New York Times they felt exploited when Close requested them to mannequin bare for him, and HuffPost printed related accounts from girls.
Close denied a few of the allegations, however acknowledged having spoken to girls candidly and even crudely about their physique components within the pursuits of evaluating them as doable topics, and he stated he apologized if he had made girls really feel uncomfortable.
“Last time I looked, discomfort was not a major offense,” Close stated in his apology. “I never reduced anyone to tears, no one ever ran out of the place. If I embarrassed anyone or made them feel uncomfortable, I am truly sorry, I didn’t mean to. I acknowledge having a dirty mouth, but we’re all adults.”
The allegations prompted a bigger dialogue round whether or not artwork may be separated from the conduct of the artist. In the wake of the accusations, the National Gallery of Art in Washington determined to indefinitely postpone an exhibition of Close’s work.
Asked if the National Gallery would do a Close present now, its director, Kaywin Feldman, stated: “Close will always be an important artist in our collection and we will continue to show his work in perpetuity, but because we haven’t talked about a show, I can’t say what we’d do.”
The National Portrait Gallery adjusted its wall labels to notice the allegations, however saved its Close portrait of President Bill Clinton hanging. “At the Portrait Gallery, we try to be fairly transparent about a person’s life,” stated Kim Sajet, the director. “But there’s no moral test to be here, or nobody would be here at all.”
The Pace present, “Chuck Close: Red, Yellow, and Blue, The Last Paintings,” which opens Feb. 22 and runs by means of April 13, will characteristic work, nearly all by no means earlier than seen, from the final 5 years of Close’s life. In explicit, the exhibition consists of work in pink, yellow and blue that Glimcher stated make the physique of labor “more about color than it is about image.”
Alongside self-portraits, the exhibition consists of portraits of the actors Claire Danes and Brad Pitt and an unfinished work that includes the agent Michael Ovitz. Also included will probably be tapestries and mosaics that Close made throughout the identical interval.
“This new body of work is more abstract, and quieter than any previous ones,” Close advised the artist Cindy Sherman in a 2018 interview. “The brushstrokes don’t make shapes or stand for any particular information per se, they just exist as layers of transparent washes of oil colors that I’m trying to treat as watercolors, as I did decades ago.” That interview, initially commissioned by The Brooklyn Rail, will probably be printed within the Pace exhibition’s catalog.
Close advised Sherman the work “feels like a new beginning.”
In an interview, Sherman stated the controversy surrounding Close is “such a shame for him, for his legacy,” provided that she attributes his conduct to dementia and believes that his work deserves to be seen. “He was hugely influential for me because he was doing this in-your-face portraiture of every little wrinkle and pore,” Sherman stated. “He was important for my development as an artist.”
Glimcher, who in 2022 opened his personal gallery in TriBeCa, stated he has labored on the present with Close’s daughters, Georgia and Maggie, who by means of him declined to be interviewed.
The Close accusations had an instantaneous impression in the marketplace, decreasing public demand for a as soon as outstanding artist.
But Glimcher stated he has by no means decreased Close’s costs. “There is no reason to drop his prices, and these paintings are knockouts,” he stated. He stated costs vary from $1 million to $5 million.
The most up-to-date Close to return up on the market at a serious public sale home — a 2012 watercolor print, “Sienna,” depicting an artist who was Close’s spouse from 2013 to 2016 — offered for about $25,000 final October at Christie’s. The excessive for a Close portray at public sale, $4.8 million, was achieved in 2005 at Sotheby’s.
Close’s most up-to-date institutional presentation within the United States was on the Pendleton Center in Oregon in 2017.
Glimcher stated the controversy surrounding Close is just not his concern. “There has been too much about Chuck that isn’t about the art,” he stated. “I only want to talk about the art.”
Nor does Glimcher see it as his accountability to restore Close’s picture. “That’s not my job,” Glimcher stated. “Restoring his reputation is this exhibition.”