PRINT April 1998


LONG AGO, SOMETIME DURING THE ’70s, I heard that Chuck Close kept the TV on while painting. He didn’t actually watch it, but he listened to it, the sounds of game shows and soap operas.1 This didn’t surprise me. Since Close was thoroughly occupied in his studio, he needed no entertainment, but rather distraction. During long hours of meticulous rendering, the sounds of television—the flat, utterly boring sensory effect of formulaic daytime programming—could serve Close’s art by muting whatever irregularity or shock the sounds of the world might generate. Once the rest of existence was reduced to a drone, Close could concentrate on something comparably flattened and featureless: an oversize canvas with a superfine grid comprising innumerable puffs of airbrushed acrylic. In the flat environment of a gridded picture, you pass from boredom to excitement just by being attentive. Each little

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