Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Chuck Close (American, b. 1940)

Cindy, 1988

Oil on canvas

102 x 84 in. (259.1 x 213.4 cm)

Gift of Camille Oliver-Hoffmann in memory of Paul W. Oliver-Hoffmann

“I wanted to make big, aggressive, confrontational images but didn’t want to use big, aggressive, powerful brush strokes. I wanted the thrust to come from the way all the incremental bits stack to build something powerful and aggressive… . I always love it when viewers stand way back to see the whole image, then move to a middle distance where it’s hard to see the whole thing, and then hopefully go right up to paintings and see that it is just a distribution of marks on a flat surface.”

Using a predetermined structure—a grid system—and process that recalls some minimalist art of the 1960s and 1970s, Chuck Close transposes photographs of friends—often other artists—onto enormous canvases. Working from a photograph allows Close to accurately represent one’s likeness; however, he fills each individual square of the grid with concentric circles of color that crystallize into recognizable shapes and forms only when viewed from a distance. When viewed closely, the central image dissolves into an overall pattern of contrasting colors. The grid in this painting is oriented on a diagonal to emphasize the slanted gesture of the subject. Its larger-than-life scale and abstracted details create an impressionistic and somewhat disorienting rendition of artist Cindy Sherman’s (American, born: 1954) true appearance.