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close but no cigar

by Charlie Finch  

Chuck Close

Comment in ArtNet Chat

The crowd

The escalator
   The locusts descended early this year for Chuck Close's Museum of Modern Art opening as the combination of museum-givers, sponsor-employees and every recognizable and unrecognizable art world face brought MoMA's famous escalators to gridlock.

At one point even octogenarian money-man David Rockefeller was held up by museum guards to allow a bottleneck to clear.

Taking an unwelcome page from David Ross' book, security goons added to the confusion, waving walkie-talkies and barking at the crowd.

The extremely conservative show is hung like a Japanese tea ceremony, studded with progressively deteriorating Close self-portraits, like a devolution of Dorian Grays.

When you look at a lot of big ugly heads of various artists straight on, you tend to remember the anomalies: Cindy Sherman with a long goose neck, Roy Lichtenstein and Close himself disintegrating in profile, a 1976 Klaus Kertess, complete with thin black mustache and the stare of a Mexican hustler.

There's lots of folderol out there about Close's working affinity to Sol LeWitt, but the bingo influence is George Seurat: color grids, fuzzy textures, ice cube trays of swimming colors, all right out of La Grande Jatte.

Rob Storr has orchestrated it all with rivulets of taste and restraint, leaving out Close's David Hockney-like disasters of the late '70s, for example. Don't expect a revolution from Chuck Close, more like a tea party.

CHARLIE FINCH is the New York editor of Coagula Art Journal and has coauthored the forthcoming Most Art Sucks from Smart Art Press.