Art: Blowing Up the Closeup

No painter was ever more aptly named than Chuck Close. Since the late '60s, when his paintings of giant heads began to make him a reputation in New York City, Close has been known for one thing: a relentless inspection of the surface of the human face, recorded at immensely magnified scale, not only "warts and all" but with every pore of every wart meticulously set forth. Large and legible though they are, Close's portraits illustrate a paradox: although faces are the most recognizable and memorable objects in the world, neither artists nor...

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