Exhibit explores portraits

Artist Chuck Close laughed and joked as he led a group of reporters through his latest exhibit, “Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration,” at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth on Wednesday.”Painters are performance artists,” Close said. “You just don’t watch the performance.”

The exhibit brings together not only the best of Close’s work, but also the “rough drafts” and early prints that lead up to the final product.

Close said he had been waiting for a chance to exhibit the work behind the final product.

“I never throw anything away,” Close said.

The smaller pieces and colors of Close’s prints work together to pursue a larger understanding of the artist’s subject. Even though, up close, the prints look more like a palette used to make a painting, many of the pieces appear more expressive and lifelike than an actual photo.

“The magic of two-dimensional art,” Close said, “is that it transcends its own physical reality.”

Close’s prints focus on head and shoulders shots of a variety of subjects. One of Close’s subjects is famed American minimalist composer Philip Glass.

“Phil jokes he is my muse,” Close said.

Close said he prefers to paint faces to other objects.

“I paint faces because I couldn’t spend months on a painting of a tree,” Close said.

The prints are created by overlaying a series of colors on one another, often making it hard to believe that the earlier drafts will ever look anything like the final project, Close said.

Rather than conceptualizing an end product and recreating it, Close said he prefers to follow the process to its end.

A student in the Yale University MFA program, Close worked alongside noted American painter Nancy Graves.

“We are the first generation of graduate-schooled artists,” Close said. “We weren’t afraid of print making.”

Close has been creating the prints since the early ’60s, and lists Pablo Picasso’s rare prints as influences on his work.

Close’s art requires him to collaborate with a publisher, as well as a number of printers.

“Process and Collaboration” opens at the Modern April 9 and runs until June 25.