Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Lucas I

Chuck Close (American, born Monroe, Washington, 1940)
Oil and graphite on canvas
100 x 84 in. (254 x 213.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift and Gift of Arnold and Milly Glimcher, 1987
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© Chuck Close
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 915
Associated with the Photo- or Super-Realist movement of the late-1960s and 1970s, the American artist Chuck Close initially became known for the minutely detailed portrait heads he painted on a monumental scale in black, white, and gray. These works, which were based on photographs, were factually rendered but magnified every pore and imperfection to unexpected and unnatural proportions. The subjects for all of Close's portraits are drawn from his wide circle of relatives and friends, many of whom are connected to the art world as artists, dealers, and collectors. Their identification in the titles by their first names only lends a casual informality to otherwise imposing images.

Paintings such as "Lucas," which depicts fellow artist Lucas Samaras, are representative of Close's later, more colorful and painterly style. They go beyond the hyper-reality of his earlier portraits and elaborate on his pictorial investigation of the act of perception, breaking down the visual information into component parts that describe the actual process of seeing, not just the end result. To create these portraits, Close begins by taking photographs of the sitter, then draws a grid over the photo, from which he methodically reproduces the contents of each tiny square on a magnified scale with small dashes, dots of pigment, thumbprints, or applied pieces of colored paper. Viewed close-up, the elements of the picture are seen as separate abstract markings; from a distance, they coalesce into an illusionistic portrait. In order to assimilate all of the multi-hued daubs of color on an eight-foot-plus canvas, the viewer is forced to stand quite a distance from the work. From this perspective, the subject stares coolly, anonymously, and unwaveringly at the viewer.

Inscription: Signed and dated (on reverse): "LUCAS" -1986-7 c C.Close 1987
[Pace Gallery, New York, until 1987; sold to MMA]

New York. The Pace Gallery. "Chuck Close: New Paintings," September 23–October 22, 1988, no. 1.

Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden. "Chuck Close Retrospective," April 10–June 22, 1994, pl. 15.

Munich. Lenbachhaus Kunstbau. "Chuck Close Retrospective," July 13–September 11, 1994, pl. 15.

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Chuck Close," February 26–May 26, 1998, unnumbered cat. (ill. p. 171).

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. "Chuck Close," June 20–September 13, 1998, unnumbered cat.

Washington, D. C. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. "Chuck Close," October 15, 1998–January 10, 1999, unnumbered cat.

Seattle Art Museum. "Chuck Close," February–May 5, 1999, unnumbered cat.

Lisa M. Messinger in "Twentieth Century Art." Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1987–1988. New York, 1988, p. 63, ill. (color).

Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 2nd ed. (1st ed., 1983). New York, 1994, p. 451, no. 35, ill. (color), calls it "Lucas".

Robert Storr. Chuck Close. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1998, p. 46, ill. p. 171 (color).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 2012, p. 431, ill. (color).

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