Seeking to Restore a Reputation, Gallery Shows Last Works by Chuck Close

Ever since Chuck Close was accused of sexual harassment in 2017, the painter — who died four years later — has largely been sidelined by the art world, with his work rarely appearing in solo museum and gallery shows.

But his longtime gallerist, Arne Glimcher, has always stood by Close, and now he has organized at Pace Gallery in Chelsea what he says will be the artist’s first major exhibition in New York since 2016, giving him the send-off and closure Glimcher believes he deserves.

“For over 40 years we have shown every cycle of Chuck’s work,” Glimcher, the founder and chairman of Pace, said in an interview. “It’s a very important exhibition because it’s the synthesis of everything he did.

“To complete the arc of all these exhibitions and catalogs is crucial,” Glimcher added. “This is one of the great painters of the 20th and 21st centuries — his influence is still enormous. There was no such thing as portraiture when he broke all of the rules and made these great pictures of people. It would be criminal not to have this last body of work in the history of his career.”

Close, who in the 1970s and ’80s made colossal photorealist portraits of himself and others, died at 81 of cardiopulmonary failure. The artist, who had used a wheelchair since 1988 because of a collapsed spinal artery that initially left him paralyzed from the neck down, in 2013 received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, which was amended to frontotemporal dementia in 2015.

Chuck Close, “Michael Ovitz (Unfinished),” 2020-2021, oil on canvas, 72-1/2” × 61-1/2” × 2.”Credit…Chuck Close, via Pace Gallery

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