Chuck Close is on the top of the list of favorite artists for myself and many figurative painters. He mastered the portrait long ago and then reinvented his process after he was debilitated by a disease. It’s hard to disagree with my statement when his paintings sell for millions of dollars and are permanently housed at huge museums and in notable collections. His astonishing portraits are huge and broken down into so many tiny squares his work literally transforms before your eyes as you get up close. Pardon the pun.
Lately he has been notable for allegations of sexual misconduct, which brings about a question circling around art collectors and appreciators. Should there be consequences towards artists who are morally corrupt? Not to say Chuck is one of them, he wasn’t charged with any crime and denies the claim. But it does arouse an interesting point. Art history is wrought with sexual deviants, murderers, pedophiles, mysoginists, psychopaths, drug and alcohol abusers… the list goes on. If we were to rid the museums and collections of artists who fell into this category the walls of the world would be bare. As I’ve said in the past art is a reflection of the times. While it was common place for Leornardo DaVinci to seek pleasure in his young male models, todays society has no room for such deviance.
With the “#MeToo” movement in full swing Chuck narrowly missed the chopping block. Curators and gallerists has a discussion on this very topic and what to do with artist who fell into the category of sex abusers, with one allegation the art community was ready to crucify Chuck Close. In recent history we have worshipped and learned about artists in class that were overtly mysoginistic Pablo Picasso and Egon Schiele are the first that come to mind. We see avid collections in museums and in private of both artists.
It’s a fine line we tip toe when freedom of expression stifled but it is not a person that controls the art market it is culture. A collection of values and perspectives that is constantly shifting and changing into a new generation with new taste, this makes up the contemporary art world. We must recognize that it is a reflection of current events and not shift our focus to the past. It would be a disservice to tear Picasso’s and Close’s off the walls. It is better to reflect and recognize that those were different times with different ideals.