Press Releases

Date of Release: 
Friday, July 14, 2006
Contact Info: 

Katie Kazan, Director of Public Information 
608.257.0158 x 237 or

Stephen Fleischman, Director
608.257.0158 x 225 or

High resolution images are available at

Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration

Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration
National Exhibition Highlights Close's Printmaking Innovations

MADISON, WI – Approximately 100 large-scale prints and working proofs by the artist Chuck Close will be on view at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art from July 30 to October 8, 2006. The exhibition, titled Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration, surveys the artist's groundbreaking innovations in a broad spectrum of printmaking mediums. Since making his first prints in 1972, Close, who is also a painter and photographer, has employed the artistic language of etching, aquatint, lithography, handmade paper, direct gravure, silkscreen, traditional Japanese woodcut, European woodcut, and reduction linocut.

One of the world's most acclaimed contemporary portraitists and technicians, Close is also known locally for his work with Tandem Press, a printmaking studio affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his collaborations with Joe Wilfer, master printer and former director of the Madison Art Center (now the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art).

Richard H. Axsom, PhD, consulting curator for the exhibition's Madison presentation, says the artist has explored and extended the boundaries of printmaking techniques for more than 35 years through his signature subject. “Close uses monumentally scaled images of the human face to explore issues related to perception and identity. He begins with a photograph--of himself or of family or friends--and may interpret and reinterpret the same image in various print mediums over the course of years, or even decades.”

Visitors to the exhibition will have an opportunity to experience the artist's creative processes through the display of progressive and state proofs for a number of prints, as well as actual woodblocks, etching plates, and other print matrices.

The exhibition also highlights the creative processes and technical collaboration between the artist and the master printers, including Wilfer, who oversaw the Madison Art Center from 1976 until 1980. Wilfer convinced Close to try a pulp paper technique, which Close eventually used with an image of his friend Philip Glass and with his own image. Both works, Phil (1984) and Self-Portrait/Manipulated (1984), which are constructed with the aid of a compartmentalized grid and fleshed out with carefully chosen shades of gray pulp, are included in the exhibition.

Related Talks and Workshops
The museum's education department has organized a series of discussions and hands-on workshops related to Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration.

August 4
Consulting curator Richard Axsom discusses the exhibition.

September 10
A family art project takes inspiration from techniques used by Chuck Close.

September 29
Andy Rubin, master printer at Tandem Press, discusses collaborating with Chuck Close.

October 6
Artist and master printer Bill Weege discusses works on view in the exhibition.

October 6
Participants will create a group print using poured paper pulp.

See the museum's website ( for additional information on these and other upcoming events. 

Only Midwest Venue
Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration is accompanied by a catalogue featuring essays by Terrie Sultan, the exhibition's curator, as well as Richard Schiff. The exhibition premiered in Houston. It has traveled to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco-Legion of Honor; the Miami Art Museum; and the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts; among other venues. MMoCA is the only Midwest stop for the exhibition.

Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration was organized by the Blaffer Gallery, the art museum of the University of Houston. The exhibition and publication have been generously underwritten by the Neuberger Berman Foundation. The exhibition was made possible, in part, by major grants from the Lannan Foundation and by Jon and Mary Shirley, and by generous grants from The Eleanor and Frank Freed Foundation, and Houston Endowment Inc. Financial support has also been provided by Jonathan and Marita Fairbanks, Dorene and Frank Herzog, Andrew and Gretchen McFarland, Carey Shuart, and The Wortham Foundation, Inc., with additional funds from Karen and Eric Pulaski, and Suzanne Slesin and Michael Steinberg, and Texas Commission on the Arts. 

The Wisconsin presentation of Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration has been made possible by generous funding from the Madison Print Club; Miller Brewing Company; Jan Marshall Fox and Don Bednarek; the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation and the Overture Foundation; Daniel Erdman; Hausmann-Johnson Insurance; the Terry Family Foundation; the Madison Arts Commission; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin; and the Art League of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

Hours at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art are Tuesday-Wednesday (11 am - 5 pm); Thursday-Friday (11 am - 8 pm); Saturday (10 am - 8 pm); and Sunday (noon - 5 pm). The museum is closed on Mondays.

Museum members may view the works in advance of the public opening at a Member's Preview on Friday, July 28, from 5 to 8 pm, and Saturday, July 29 from 10 am to 8 pm.

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