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This week, DC is in for a remarkable treat: The Adamson Gallery (one of US art world’s premier printmaking exhibit spaces/facilities) opened its doors yesterday to a series of new works by the legendary and incomparable Chuck Close.

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For the uninitiated:
The remarkable career of Chuck Close extends beyond his completed works of art. The man is more than just a painter, photographer, and printmaker, Close views himself as a builder who, in his words, builds “painting experiences for the viewer.”
Close chooses his subjects from among his family and friends–including artists such as Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Alex Katz, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg–to create works that range from coolly unemotional likenesses of unidentified individuals to psychologically charged glimpses of well-known members of the contemporary art world.

Almost all of Close’s work is based on the use of a grid as an underlying basis for the representation of an image.

This simple but surprisingly versatile structure provides the means for “a creative process that could be interrupted repeatedly without…damaging the final product, in which the segmented structure was never intended to be disguised.” It is important to note that none of Close’s images are created digitally or photo-mechanically. While it is tempting to read his gridded details as digital integers, all his work is made the old-fashioned way—by hand.

The always-innovative Close is unafraid to experiment with both subject and medium: Close’s work forces the viewer to pay attention to not only the pieces themselves, but also their very process of creation. Close references the daguerreotypes of nineteenth century portraiture, the tapestries of classical craft, and finally his own photorealistic works. As tropes of process and of representation are referenced and inverted, the resulting images are striking, modern, and beautiful.

Close’s newest works are breathtaking tapestry pieces.
Daguerrotype images of Cindy Sherman and Lorna Simpson, supermodel Kate Moss and Close himself are translated into large- scale jacquard tapestries using a customized “digital” loom: using 17,800 warp threads and repeating groups of eight colors.

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The enormous tapestry pieces appear to be photographs, it is only upon closer inspection that the viewer sees their true form. As the tapestry becomes mechanized, the photograph is realized as thread, image is deconstructed into craft.

Also featured is a new portfolio from Adamson Editions: a series of flower prints originally commissioned by Vogue magazine.

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Like the tapestry images, these are originally daguerreotypes, but are rendered as pigment prints. Close turns his photographic eye on flowers: a calla lily, hydrangea and a sunflower. Likening his photographs to a “mug shot”, the flowers are both humanized, and perversely, reduced to ethereal shapes, forms, and light.

Finally, a new photograph of the artist Kara Walker is rendered in the silhouette style of her own works. The portrait is not only of Walker, but of Walker’s accomplishments, done in the artist’s own style. While Walker’s own works are monochromatic, the silhouette here is backed by a soft gradation of color. Again, Close examines the roles of portraiture and even photography itself in fine art.

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ADAMSON GALLERY
1515 Fourteenth Street NW
Washington DC 20005

Opening reception:this Saturday

Hours of Operation:
Tuesday – Saturday
10:30 am – 5:30 pm

website: http://www.adamsongallery.com
read more (and more personal) on Chuck here

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