Auguste Rodin by Edward SteichenwikipediaAuguste Rodin was o­ne of the most famous sculptors of our time.
Here’s a list of products used for my most recent shoot with Georgia Wiggs from Georgia Wiggs Photography, featuring the stunning Keira Brigham, who’s such a natural beauty! Sasha Grishin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above. With more than 200 prints on display, Chuck Close: Prints, Process and Collaboration is one of the biggest printmaking exhibitions to be held in Australia.
Very early in his career, Chuck Close was provoked by a comment made by the most prominent art critic of the day in America, Clement Greenberg, that it was impossible to paint a face. Between 1967 and 1970 Close produced a series of eight huge painted black and white portraits, which in meticulous detail reproduced every nuance of the face of his sitter as recorded in the photograph he made with his large box camera. Close sought fidelity not so much with the features of the sitter, but with his photograph. One of the paintings from this series, Bob, 1970, was acquired by James Mollison in 1975 for the National Gallery in Canberra. The mezzotint, Keith (1972) based on a photograph of a fellow artist, Keith Hollingworth, was developed by Close in collaboration with Kathan Brown at Crown Point Press, in Oakland California. Close challenged his master printer and himself by adopting this technique and employing it on an unprecedented scale, in the modern era, of more than a metre for his plate. What is clear from the Keith mezzotint, as well as all of the series of woodcuts (both Japanese and Western style), linocuts, etchings, colour paper-pulp prints, screenprints, tapestry prints, fingerprints (literally made by his fingerprints) and all different manifestations of digital prints, is that Close is not primarily a photorealist, with whom he is normally grouped, but a conceptual artist, and one who is more than anything else concerned with process.
At the age of 48, in 1988, Close’s life changed abruptly as he experienced a catastrophic spinal artery collapse while attending a function in New York. Through intensive physio he regained partial control of some of his muscles and has continued to make art, although it was now from a wheelchair with brushes strapped to his hands, assisted by helpers. The remarkable thing was that “the event”, as Close prefers to call it, did not appear to have had any impact on the style, technique or conceptual framework of his art, but only on the mechanism of its production.


In his 1998 retrospective, which I saw at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, it was impossible to differentiate his work before and after “the event”. The strategy throughout his print oeuvre remains essentially the same: the subject is a photograph, usually the face of a sitter, which is then gridded and subjected to a process of distillation through some printmaking technology and finally realised, frequently on a huge scale. A common conceptual conceit running throughout all of his prints is a game between the highly personalised pixelated surface apparent in the print, when seen at a close viewing distance, and the hyperrealist illusion created when viewed from a distance.
Additionally, and central to his practice, is the desire to clearly reveal and record all of the stages in the metamorphosis of the image. Chuck Close has worked with some of the great master printers and printmaking workshops of our time. His art is ultimately a celebration of solemn monumentality presented with an American sense of scale. Chuck Close: Prints, Process and Collaboration is on display at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art until March 15. He was born in France to a family who wanted very much for him to excel academically, but he was more interested in art and drawing. We use a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivatives licence, so you can republish our articles for free, online or in print.
The whole top floor of Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) has been given over to this show. As Close asserted in 1968, portraiture appeared as the “dumbest, most moribund, out-of-date and shop-worn of possible things you could do”. These gridded paintings on gessoed ground were executed with black paint, with a limited application of white highlights.
This process-driven artist, who is obsessed with recording every change in the development of work, could take trail proofs or state proofs at every stage in the realisation of the work.
Again it was Mollison who in 1976 had the foresight to acquire the mezzotint, all 19 progressive trial proofs, as well as the actual copper plate.


As you examine the transformations in the trail proofs, there is a grid emerging as a compositional structural element.
It is as if the conjurer and alchemist give us privileged access to their world and reveal their bag of tricks, and we still gasp with amazement and disbelief at the final outcome.
He has pushed the limits of the humble print from that of an affordable, democratic multiple to that of a huge, mesmerisingly complex and very expensive artwork produced in multiples. He decided at a very young age to pursue art as a career, and he got accepted into the Ecole Imperiale de Dessin, which was a government art school in France.
From it, we learn very little about the personality of the stage-set designer, the sitter Robert Israel, or for that matter about the nature of portraiture, but a lot about image, perception and process.
Unlike most of the normal methods in printmaking or drawing, where you make a black line on a white surface, in the mezzotint you work from black, slowly scraping away the roughed-up surface, to create detail and to arrive at white lines against a black background.
He was ahead of his time, and his sculptures did not fit the mold of what was popular at the time. He did not let this discourage him, and just continued o­n, sculpting things that were not the "norm". Rodin is best known for his scupture of The Thinker, which is located now in Paris at the Musee Rodin. It is made of marble and bronze, and was completed by Rodin in 1902.In 1917, at the age of 77, Rodin died.



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