Chuck Close Apologizes After Accusations of Sexual Hara ssment

Chuck Close on Women

Chuck Close
"I love women and they love me," Chuck Close announces with a mischievous grin. He's in his downtown Manhattan studio, surrounded by the women whose affection he returns so ardently. A larger-than-life portrait in progress of old friend Cindy Sherman dominates one wall, while watercolor prints of Kiki Smith, Kara Walker, Cecily Brown, Lorna Simpson, and his girlfriend, artist Sienna Shields, gaze up from the floor, where they are laid next to oversize Polaroids of Julianne Moore.
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"In many fields, women occupy the most important positions. That's what allows me to do both Cindy Sherman and Julianne Moore. They're at the absolute top of their game," says Close, who portrays only those with whom he has "an important relationship—if their work resonates with me and I'm a fan." Moore, who he met through her husband, director Bart Freundlich, posed for him for the first time earlier this year. "Julianne is very comfortable in herself. I think she is extraordinarily beautiful," says the artist. "She had an opportunity to put makeup on but she didn't. I really respected that decision. It was brave, but I think that largely defines who she is."

"The best part about no makeup is that you know it's real," he adds. "I think the portraits are very intimate. You don't see a face like that unless you're making love."

Moore says, "It was certainly a little unnerving to sit for Chuck because his work is known for a somewhat unvarnished quality! It was sheer narcissism on my part; a desire to be included among the notable people he has shot. I was tremendously flattered to be asked." She continues: "Chuck's enthusiasm for life is reflected in his portraiture. When you sit for him, you feel he is trying to capture you at your most authentic. He is extremely collaborative and relaxed, and so interested in the very humanness of us all. I found that very compelling."

The visual truths offered up by Close's work can seem either tender or daunting in an era when every attempt is made to buff away the tracks of age. Particularly brutal are his daguerreotypes. "They are as unflattering as you can get. I apologized to Kate Moss for how it made her look," he remembers of their 2003 sitting. "And she said, 'Oh, I've had enough pretty pictures made of me.'" A chuckle. "But I always say, 'It doesn't matter how it looks now. In 20 years you'll look back and say, 'Gee, I really look great.'

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"I do try to make the process as painless as possible," he continues. "I have no desire to make anyone look bad or unattractive. But I also don't need to flatter."

That insistence perhaps stems from his pro-feminist stance. "I always thought women wouldn't be truly liberated until they cared as little about how they looked as men did. Who would have guessed that men would end up being more vain than women?" Such self-regard doesn't hinder his male subjects, from Lou Reed to Jasper Johns. "I did Clint Eastwood, and he makes Lou look like he's 18 years old. I mean, he has wrinkles inside his wrinkles!"

Close wears the battle scars of his 72 years well and remains a hulk of a man despite the wheelchair he's been confined to since 1988. But growing up as an unathletic only child, his playmates were often girls. "I had a dollhouse and dolls," he says. "I ended up being more comfortable with women than men." Now he has two daughters, Georgia and Maggie. "I have nothing but women in my family, including the cats and dogs," he adds in false despair.

In fact, his daring career path was also, in part, thanks to a feminine influence. "I was raised by a fearless woman who dared me to do dangerous things like hang off a cliff. It can get me into trouble, but I've always liked the feeling of being at risk."

"Chuck Close" is at the Pace Gallery, 534 West 25th Street, New York, New York, through December 22.

Video: Artist Chuck Close apologises after accusations of sexual harassment from women who posed for him

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Date: 06.12.2018, 14:40 / Views: 64144