Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, American Perspectives: Photographs from the Polaroid Collection, September - November 2000, and traveling to 3 other venues through 2001 (see Appendix 1)
Boston University Art Gallery, American Perspectives: Photographs from the Polaroid Collection (a continuation of a portion of the original American Perspectives exhibition), November 2002 – January 2003
American Perspectives: Photographs from the Polaroid Collection (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 2000), pl. 32
The Polaroid Book (Köln, 2008), p. 283
In 1979, the artist Chuck Close was invited by Kathy Halbreich, director of the Hayden Gallery at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to use Polaroid's large-format 20-by-24-inch camera. Photography had always been integral to Close's work, providing the starting point for his painting and work in other media, and his understanding of the medium was considerable. However, photography had never previously served as the end-point for him, but was instead a part of his multi-step artistic process. Working with the Polaroid 20-by-24-inch camera, however, changed his thinking about photography and its place in his work. He commented about this experience that, 'It was the first time I considered myself a photographer . . . From that point on, I began to make photographs that deal with the kind of issues I deal with in my paintings' (Lyons and Storr, Chuck Close, p. 38).
Since the late 1960s, when Close abandoned abstract work, photography has been intrinsic to his process. Instead of preparing for a painting with a preliminary sketch or study, Close took photographs of his subjects. He described his use of photographs this way: 'I wanted something very specific to do where there were rights and wrongs, and so I decided to just use whatever happened in the photograph . . . I was constructing a series of self-imposed limitations that would guarantee that I could no longer make what I had been making' (Grynsztejn and Engberg, Chuck Close: Self Portraits, 1967-2005, p. 118). Since that time, Close's work across all of his chosen media has constituted either an embrace of photographic realism, or a calculated deviation from it.
While the large and unwieldy 20-by-24-inch camera was not easy to use, Close found it liberating. As was his customary working method, Close originally intended to use these Polaroids as the basis for other works, but found instead that the Polaroids possessed sufficient presence to stand on their own as finished works. Close worked with the camera on a number of occasions into the 1980s, primarily in color. The resulting images were sometimes conceived as singular works, while others, like the work offered here and that in Lot 26, were combined into multi-image compositions.
The 9 Part Self Portrait offered here, executed in 1987, shows the rare instance of Close's choice of black-and-white Polapan film as opposed to Polacolor. In its grand scale and black/gray/white palette, it bears a strong resemblance to Close's monochrome work in other media. It is, nonetheless, completely photographic in conception and impact.
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