Close up

A couple of takeaways from “Closer: The Graphic Art of Chuck Close,” at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich through Jan. 5:

Kenneth Silver, who curated the show with Margarita Karasoulas, makes the point that Close came along in the 1960s at a time when Abstract Expressionism was at its height and thus signals a shift to representation with his photographic portraits. But when you think about it, Close’s prints – with their pulpy, mosaic-like pieces and Pointillist effects, their very emphasis on process – seem to be the perfect bridge between the Abstract Expressionists and Pop artists like Andy Warhol.

The other thought that may cross your mind as you take in the show is this question: To what extent does the success of a portrait depend on the face of the sitter? Close, of course, has no intention of being John Singer Sargent, and pals like haunting Minimalist composer Philip Glass, while interesting and accomplished, are no Madame X. Still, admiration for an artist’s technique will also carry him and you so far. So the question remains, How long are you willing to gaze at a face you don’t find very attractive? I think the answer is, Not very.

While you’re contemplating that, be sure to take in “Telling American History: Realism From the Print Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly (through Dec. 31). This is a handsome show that captures the grit and glamour of early-20th century American art.

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