Ernesto and I went to the Chuck Close opening tonight at the Walker. It was incredibly packed. After waiting in line and lots of people watching, we spotted Chuck Close buzzing through the crowd, as people flared out with big smiles and tentative utterings of praise for a great show. We got tired of waiting in line, so we headed up to Gallery 8 for Chan Poling and his band. Just a few feet away, Ernesto spotted Vice President Walter Mondale and his wife Joan. He seemed to know all these young band dudes and posed for a few point-and-shoots.
We finally got into the show. Chuck Close’ paintings are initially abstract, but altogether tight at the final squint. I think that his paintings appeal to a broad audience, from photographers to even photorealist painters. The paintings take the realism of photography and transmit them into very painterly abstractions at close range. Once viewed at a great distance, they just come together, even though at closer range it’s apparent that they are made up of small, abstract paintings. This is a show that has to be seen from a great distance, not from one foot away and five people deep. I will return.