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CHUCK CLOSE: Life and Work 1988-1995

CLOSE, Chuck (Artist) and John Guare (Text)

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ISBN 10: 0500092532 / ISBN 13: 9780500092538
Published by Thames & Hudson, New York, 1995
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Brian Cassidy, Bookseller ABAA/ILAB (Silver Spring, MD, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

4to. Cloth. Very good plus in a very good DJ. Jacket has light edgewear, rubbing, bit of sunning, and a few stray marks. Unclipped. Book is bright, sharp, clean throughout with just touches of shelfwear at extremities. A wonderful production with text by the award-winning playwrite and beautifully detailed full-color reproduction of the artist's later work. The first monograph to focus on Close's post-paralysis portraits. Unpaginated. Out of print. Bookseller Inventory # 12607

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Bibliographic Details

Title: CHUCK CLOSE: Life and Work 1988-1995

Publisher: Thames & Hudson, New York

Publication Date: 1995

Binding: Cloth

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good+

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


In December 1988, at a high point of his career, a collapsed spinal artery left the painter Chuck Close paralyzed from the shoulders down. He was famous by then for his monumental portraits that deconstructed the conventional notions of identity and personality. Now Close was forced to confront his own identity: could a paralyzed man make monumental art? Three years later, a show of new Close paintings appeared; to the astonishment of the art world, they were as large and powerful as ever. Not only had he found a way to paint his physically demanding portraits again; they had also been transformed. A more impressionistic and dynamic vision now throbbed from his canvases with new emotional intensity.
In this book, Close has collaborated with his friend, playwright John Guare, to produce a narrative account that tells the story of what Close calls "the event": the day of the trauma itself, the months of slowly recovering the minimal movement that allows him to still paint, and the transformation of his art as a result. The book also brings together all of his new paintings from the last seven years, including images of Roy Lichtenstein, Eric Fischl, April Gornik, and other major contemporary artists. Taking the reader even further into his vision, Close brings Guare behind the canvas and into the Polaroid studio to photograph him as a potential subject for a new portrait. With a unique combination of documentary photographs and commentary, Close shows how he conceives and begins the process of making a portrait, and how the subject plays a role in shaping the final image.


Close moves beyond the typical artist monograph by engaging the painter in a discussion about his profound personal "catastrophe." In 1988 painter Chuck Close had achieved a rare success: he was just 50 years old and his monumental portraits had already been the subject of a major museum retrospective, 60 solo shows, and hundreds of other group shows. His portrait subjects were often other painters such as Francesco Clemente and Lucas Samaras, and his work was shown in the prestigious Pace Gallery in New York City. Then catastrophe struck: Close suffered a collapsed spinal artery, which ultimately left him paralyzed and permanently wheelchair-bound. For weeks, many in the art world thought he might be dead. Certainly, the obituary of his painting career was quickly written. But a scant two years later, the indomitable Close reemerged, his canvasses as large as ever, the heretofore objective distance between him and his subjects foreshortened to make room for a new depth of emotion in the work.

Playwright John Guare (Six Degrees of Separation) interviews Close about the effect the catastrophe, as he calls it, has had on his life and work. Interspersed throughout are beautifully reproduced, full-page images of Close's portraits. Many of these images are placed alongside the photographs from which the painter works and the maquettes that are the next step of the process. Included, too, are close-ups of the grids of color that make up the paintings. Seen at this level of detail, they create their own impressionist imagery. The conversation between playwright and painter culminates in the writer's sitting for the artist in front of his massive Polaroid camera--the first stage in Close's portrait process. Close offers readers the opportunity to examine the painter's work and read about his emotional and artistic shifts and the meaning behind them, making this book a worthy addition to any art lover's library. --Jordana Moskowitz

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I focus on intrinsically interesting, important, or unusual books in all fields. Specialties include popular culture; esoterica; modern & contemporary literature; John Steinbeck; The Beat & NY schools; poetry & small press; the avant-garde; little magazines & lit. journals (especially those associated with the Mimeo Revolution); manuscripts & archives; literary ephemera; Americana; as well as vernacular, folk, and outsider books of all kinds. A sense of the eclecticism I strive for can be seen in some of material I've recently handled. From an illuminated 15th-century manuscript Book of Hours to a collection of photographs and collages by Beat great William S. Burroughs, from a Yosemite tourist album containing some of the earliest images of a Sierra Club expedition to an important archive of letters from writer Henry Miller to his agent, I seek material that will fascinate and endure. I am always looking to purchase fine books in any of my areas of interest, from single titles to collections. Please inquire. Search and want services are available, as are appraisals and collection development. For three years I maintained an open shop in Monterey, CA (formerly the Cannery Row Old Book Co.). I now work in the Washington DC area and maintain office space in downtown Silver Spring MD. I am open by chance or appointment. I also exhibit regularly at book fairs around the country. Please check my website for upcoming events. To date, I've issued five catalogues of rare books. Copies may be downloaded on my website ( Print copies may also be requested. Please email to be added to our mailing list. Proud member: Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA), International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB), International Online Booksellers Association (IOBA).

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