In 1979, while working in Cambridge with Polaroid's 20-by-24-inch camera (see Lots 3 and 26), Chuck Close heard about another, even larger, Polaroid camera housed in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Developed initially to take actual-size photographs of paintings, the massive 40-by-80-inch camera was essentially its own light-tight room. Close lobbied for access to this camera, known as the Museum Camera, and was granted it in 1980. The monumental self-portrait offered here is one of the photographs Close made with the camera in that year.
During his first sessions with this massive camera, Close concentrated on portrait subjects. Frequently he took his position inside the camera, wearing night-vision goggles, to assist in positioning the film and manipulating the exposure mechanism. The unwieldiness of the process did nothing to stifle his creativity, and the work he created with the camera is consistently inventive. He would go on, in 1984, to produce with this camera a series of multi-image compositions of nude dancers, each 40-by-80-inch photograph comprising a segment of an immense composite. While these works are impressive, none conveys the monumentality or impact of the Self Portrait offered here, or bears as strong a relationship to the rest of Close's oeuvre.
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