Chuck Close
Artist
02:31

Is the Art Market More Corrupt Than Wall Street?

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Chuck Close says comparing art dealers to Wall Street crooks is unfair.

Chuck Close

Chuck Close is an American artist noted for his highly inventive techniques used to paint the human face. He is best known for his large-scale, Photo-Realist portraits.

In 1988 a spinal blood clot left Close almost completely paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. A brush-holding device strapped to his wrist and forearm, however, allowed him to continue working. In the 1990s he replaced the minute detail of his earlier paintings with a grid of tiles daubed with colourful elliptical and ovoid shapes. Viewed up close, each tile was in itself an abstract painting; when seen from a distance, the tiles came together to form a dynamic deconstruction of the human face. In 1998 the Museum of Modern Art in New York City mounted a major retrospective of Close's portraits. Close has been called a Photo-Realist, a Minimalist, and an Abstract Expressionist but, as the 1998 retrospective proved, his commitment to his unique vision and his evolving techniques defy any easy categorization.

Transcript

Chuck Close: What I thought was interesting about the dilemma about trying to explain to people that this is a wonderful field driven by people who are generous and care about what they do and there are dealers who believe fervently in the work of the artists that they represent.

If the bottom dropped out of the market and the artist was not going to sell anything, he or she will keep working, and the dealer will keep trying to find some way to convince somebody to buy this stuff.

You don’t see people who roared through huge amounts of money at Bear Sterns offering to go back and work at Bear Sterns for free, for the next couple of years, to get the firm back on it’s feet again. They’re not going to show up and go to work unless they’re being paid.

And how anybody could think that people in the stock market have more integrity than people in the art world, especially at a time like this with these charlatans, or these shysters and these thieves and liars, the people who have committed themselves all of their lives, and all have given up so much to do it, sacrificed so much to do it. Women who have decided not to have children because they don’t think they can really do both. Well, that’s one of the most major sacrifices someone could make. I only have so much time and energy and money and I’m going to put it into my work. Or someone else who is willing to make a vow of poverty to keep working.

How they can be compared to the Bernie Madoffs in the world and be found wanting, and for them to be the ones without integrity is beyond me.

Recorded on: February 5, 2009


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