An internationally renowned American painter, printmaker, and photographer, Chuck Close’s work has radically changed the definition of modern portraiture. A Couple of Ways of Doing Something presents a stunning collection of portraits by Chuck Close of his influential circle of artist colleagues who have made regular appearances in his paintings over the years—Laurie Anderson, Lyle Ashton Harris, Cecily Brown, Gregory Crewdson, Carroll Dunham, Ellen Gallagher, Philip Glass, Bob Holman, Elizabeth Murray, Elizabeth Peyton, Andres Serrano, Cindy Sherman, James Siena, Lorna Simpson, Kiki Smith, James Turrell, Robert Wilson, Terry Winters, Lisa Yuskavage, and, Chuck Close himself. The exhibit features fifteen exquisitely detailed daguerreotypes, which Close uses as the base to create the other works in the show—twenty digital pigment prints, six tapestries, and two photogravures. Each of the twenty artist-subjects is accompanied by a lyrical praise poem by New York School poet, Bob Holman. Collectively, A Couple of Ways Of Doing Something is a challenging exploration of photographic techniques and processes that transcends any one medium.
Over the course of two years, Close worked closely with daguerreotype master Jerry Spagnoli to conquer the complexities of the venerable daguerreotype process which yields images of astonishing detail and gravity. As individual portraits, each image offers an intimate and immensely revealing study of the subject, extending the hyperrealist tradition of portraiture for which Close is renowned. Holman’s accompanying poems are concise, witty, and beautifully typeset to reflect the personality and style of each person portrayed. With the counterpoint of Holman’s engaging poetry, the exhibition becomes a transfixing group portrait that explores the idea of the “art circle” and its importance to an artist’s work and life.
The exhibition is accompanied by a lush, oversized catalog published by Aperture (November 2006). Originally published in 2004 as a limited edition portfolio (75 copies, plus artist’s and other proofs; $15,000), the new Aperture trade edition makes this unique collaborative project available to a wider audience while preserving the luxurious sensibility of the limited edition. The catalog includes a lively interview with Close and Holman conducted by art critic and author Lyle Rexer.