Treatment FOCUS: A Chuck Close Portrait
At first glance, it may seem contradictory that celebrated artist Chuck Close is best known for his large-scale portraits. Close has prosopagnosia, which means that he has trouble recognizing faces—even those of people he has known for years. But flattening out a face through the process of painting or printmaking helps Close remember it, as he explained in an interview with PBS NewsHour in July 2010:
I have virtual photographic memory for anything that is flat, so it's not an accident that I only do images of people who matter to me—family, friends, other artists….These are images that really matter, and I want to commit them to memory, and the only way I can really do that is to flatten them out, scan them, make these drawings and paintings and prints. And then they enter my memory bank in a different sort of way.
This 2007 Close portrait, Janet—which portrays painter Janet Fish, a friend of Close’s—is currently receiving conservation treatment at CCAHA. To create the huge paper print, Close and his collaborators applied different shades of paper pulp using a complex system of stencils.