From Publishers Weekly
"Inspiration is for amateurs," according to Chuck Close, one of the most influential and pioneering figurative painters of our time, because "waiting around to be hit on the head by a lightning bolt, you get nothing done.... Ideas flow out of the working process, out of what you have already done." Friedman, former director of the Walker Art Center and longtime friend of Close, offers revealing details of the artist's life including excerpts from personal conversations between the two (friends for nearly four decades), an examination of how Close perfected the technique for his epic-scale portraits and discussions with 10 distinguished artists (and Close subjects) including Jasper Johns, Franceso Clemente and Kiki Smith. Using accessible prose, Friedman offers personal glimpses into everything from the atmosphere of Close's studio (a simply furnished, relaxed setting punctured by many interruptions from the outside world) to his blunt reaction to critics' attempts to understand the psychology behind his self-portraiture. "Close grandly finesses the personal issue by maintaining that all of his paintings, irrespective of their subjects, are in essence self-portraits," writes Friedman, who clearly has his doubts. This thoughtful and engaging tome on one of America's most influential and most collectable artists is a must-read for the collector, casual devotee and student.
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About the Author
Martin Friedman has served as a guest curator and advisor to a number of art museums since retiring as director of the Walker Art Center in 1990. During his more than 30-year tenure at the Walker, Friedman built a major collection of paintings and sculptures, created the world-famous Minneapolis Sculpture Garden adjacent to the museum, and originated numerous exhibitions of contemporary art. His friendship with Chuck Close goes back to 1969 when he acquired the now-iconic Big Self-Portrait
from Close for the Walker's collection. In 1980 the museum organized the first Close retrospective, and in the mid-1990s Friedman began a series of discussions with the artist, out of which this book grew. He lives in New York.