Like many Post–Minimalist artists, Close values handiwork; he has used obsessively time-consuming and labor–intensive techniques to make portraits in a variety of mediums. The meticulous photorealism with which Close began his career, demonstrated in his portrait paintings of the 1970s and 1980s, gave way in the 1990s to an increasingly painterly style. To make Self-Portrait he mapped a large Polaroid photograph onto a roughly drawn grid of squares, then used a somber palette of grays and browns to fill in the squares with organic shapes resembling lozenges, donuts, and hot dogs. Together the shapes form an allover, teeming field of dark–hued abstraction that, from the short distance of a few steps, transforms into a recognizable, head–and–shoulders likeness of the artist. Viewers can see the component parts and the cohesive whole as well as the two-way street between them. In this way they collaborate with the artist in the breakdown and composition of the image.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 113.