Contemporary American artist Chuck Close appears at the February 1998 opening of the Museum’s retrospective exhibition Chuck Close (MoMA Exh. #1798, February 25- May 26, 1998) with Museum Director, Glenn D. Lowry, and Museum President, Agnes Gund.
The Museum of Modern Art’s relationship with Close began over two decades ago when, in 1972, the Museum purchased the artist’s print entitled Keith (1972). In 1991, Close was invited by the Museum to guest curate an exhibition for the Artist’s Choice series. Introduced in 1989, the series was created to give contemporary artists an occasion to conceive of and install a temporary exhibition of works from the Museum’s permanent collection. The resulting exhibitions illustrated how contemporary artists have responded to and been influenced by the creativity and innovation of modern art. Artist’s Choice: Chuck Close, Head-On / The Modern Portrait (MoMA Exh. #1567, January 10-March 19, 1991) highlighted portraiture and represented a visual tour-de-force with nearly 170 portraits hung salon-style in a single gallery.
The exhibition Chuck Close consisted of ninety paintings, drawings, and photographs, psychologically charged portraits of fellow artists and anonymous sitters which fundamentally redefined the genre of portraiture. The 1998 retrospective represents the Museum’s interest in the art of Chuck Close and its commitment to the art of our time.