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See How Chuck Close Reinvented Photography In This Groundbreaking Museum Retrospective

The daguerreotype is as old as photography. Invented in the 1830s, it was the favorite mode of portraiture for mid-19th-century bourgeoisie, who posed in front of ersatz classical architecture dressed in their Sunday best. Today daguerreotypes are mostly regarded as historical artifacts and family heirlooms. The painter Chuck Close has provocatively reframed them as contemporary art.

As a portraitist, Close has relied on photography since the 1960s. Photographs have served as studies for his monumental "heads", affording him a means of transposing an instant in his sitters' lives onto canvases painted over months.

The juxtaposition of immediacy and deliberation is a crucial source of visual tension in his work, as is the interplay between photographic objectivity and painterly subjectivity. "I think of the camera as a way of seeing," Close has said. The camera is the perceptual apparatus of an artist whose work is fundamentally about the act of looking...

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