Chuck Close: Face Forward Showing at the Schneider Museum of Art this Summer

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The Schneider Museum of Art at Southern Oregon University is pleased to announce an important exhibition, Chuck Close: Face Forward – from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation, which will be on view from Friday, June 19 through Saturday, September 5, 2015. There will be a public opening reception featuring wines generously donated by Eliana Wines, and music by Modern Prometheus Jazz Company, on Thursday, June 18, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM.

Chuck Close: Face Forward – from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation was made possible through a generous loan from the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. The show features a comprehensive range of works by this revered American artist. Highlighted in this exhibition are a wide array of Close‘s etchings, linocuts, lithographs, screen prints, woodcuts, and paper-pulp multiples. This exhibition was organized and curated by Erika Leppmann, Director, Schneider Museum of Art, Oregon Center for the Arts, Southern Oregon University.

Chuck Close, one of the most influential artists of our time, earned his reputation by continuously reinventing portraiture.  He developed his signature style in the late 1960s when he painted his first self-portrait enlarged to a monumental scale.  Since then, he has explored various methods and techniques for depicting the human face.  Never content to remain within a predictable style or technique, he has always rethought the nature of representation by devising bold new ways of rendering his subjects.

His zeal for experimentation led him to make his first print in 1972.  Since that time, he has rigorously explored a full array of different printmaking mediums.  Prints have become a key part of his creative process.  Close once said: “Virtually everything that has happened in my unique work can be traced back to the prints.”  This exhibition features 78 prints offering a rich survey of his involvement with printmaking, ranging from traditional techniques (etchings, engravings, woodcuts, and lithographs) to more unusual materials (tapestry and handmade paper pulp).

Close typically begins with a gridded photograph of a person he knows intimately.  This exhibition features works depicting close friends such as the contemporary composer Phillip Glass, family members, and fellow artists such as Alex Katz, John Chamberlain, and Lucas Samaras, as well as his ubiquitous self-portraits.  He renders his subjects using a variety of approaches that range from precise photorealism to free-form expressionism.  His desire to push his medium to its limits results in boldly dynamic and unforgettable images that make Chuck Close one of America’s most important living artists.

Collector Jordan D. Schnitzer said: “Chuck Close is the master portrait artist of our time. For tens of thousands of years artists have drawn faces, but no one has taken the art of portraiture to the same level as Chuck Close. He is a brilliant artist. His portraits within portraits are a mirror of not only his subjects, but of all of us.” Director Erika Leppmann would like to thank Portland philanthropist Jordan Schnitzer for his generosity in sharing his impressive collection with audiences across the country.

The Artist

Born in the state of Washington in 1940, Chuck Close struggled with dyslexia as a child and found solace in making art.  Despite his learning disabilities, he graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1962 and from the Yale University School of Art and Architecture in 1964.  In 1968 he abandoned his abstract work and made his first photorealist self-portrait, setting a new direction for his career.  He suffered a personal setback in 1988, when a collapsed spinal artery left him paralyzed at the age of 48.  After months of therapy, he regained the ability to paint and remains passionately committed to his craft.  The artist has often said that art saved his life twice: the first time as a child, the second as an adult.

The Collection

Portland collector Jordan D. Schnitzer purchased his first work of art when he was fourteen years old, the first step in his lifelong commitment to being an art patron.  He began collecting contemporary prints and multiples in earnest in 1988.  Today, his collection exceeds 8,000 works and includes many of today’s most important contemporary artists.  He generously lends work to other institutions and has organized over ninety exhibitions at more than sixty museums.