Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chuck Close and Me and A Few Hundred Other People

Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a talk by my favorite living artist, Chuck Close, and author Christopher Finch, who is his biographer. WOW! What an exciting evening!

The talk was at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. For anyone reading this who is not familiar with Chuck Close or the MFA in Boston's lecture series, here is info about the lecture from the MFA's website:

"Chuck Close Talks: Process and Pragmatism

Few contemporary artists have achieved the iconic stature of Close, who burst onto the New York art scene 40 years ago. He reinvented the portrait with monumental heads of friends, family, and colleagues painted in thousands of tiny airbrush bursts, thumbprints, or looping multicolor brushstrokes. More than a painter, photographer, or printmaker, Close, in his words, “builds painting experiences for the viewer.”

Chuck Close and Christopher Finch, author of Chuck Close: Work and Chuck Close: Life, discuss the artist’s dramatic life story and how it has shaped his remarkable artistic accomplishments."

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The conversation was great. Here are some choice quotes about being an artist or about making art:

"Art made me feel special." (when growing up)

"Everything in my work today was driven by my learning disabilities."

"I was driven to make portraits because I have a photographic memory of things that are flat."

He described himself saying "I'm lazy, a slob and I have a short attention span, but I can spend months on a painting."

He kept his prices artificially low after he got out of Yale grad school (in the 1960's?) because art museums could afford work under $2000 at the time.

When he got out of Yale, "portraits were dead," so he did portraits. Andy Warhol did portraits of celebrities so Close painted his friends.

"I recycle images." He used Phillip Glass's image many times, including 42 years later.

"I want to be a different artist today than I was a few weeks ago."

"Comfort is the enemy of the artist."

Purge your work of all influences and try to make it your own."

"If you get to work, you'll bump into many possibilities."

And at the end of his talk, he used a golf analogy to explain his work, which I couldn't write down in fear of not paying enough attention to what he was saying. Basically, it was about how he uses strokes of color to get to a deliberate end. This is not a quote.

I've been to a few lectures at the MFA, which have all been very enriching, but this was the absolute best! I feel inspired and energized.

Photo credit: Page Wilson, Pace Gallery, New York.