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An Artist Dialogue - Lyle Ashton Harris and Chuck Close

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March 23, 2011

Program Locations:

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Margaret Liebman Berger Forum

FREE - Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Widely known for his self-portraiture and explorations of identity in his photographs, videos, and performances, artist Lyle Ashton Harris has spent the last decade creating a monumental series of sepia-toned portraits with the large-format Polaroid camera. These 200 portraits of family, friends, cultural figures, celebrities, and fellow artists blur conventional roles, identities, and racial categories in subtle plays of light and shadow. Marking the publication of Excessive Exposure, a major new book from Gregory R. Miller & Co. which collects the complete series of "Chocolate Portraits," acclaimed artist Chuck Close, one of today’s most original creators of portraits in both painting and photography, joins Harris in a conversation on topics ranging from portraiture and photography in the context of the contemporary art world to aspects of their own art-making practices.

Excessive Exposure documents all the chocolate-colored portraits that Bronx-born artist Lyle Ashton Harris made with a large-format Polaroid camera over the past ten years. This sequence of approximately 200 paired front and back portraits, for which Harris has become so well known, has now come to a close, making this volume the definitive publication on the series. Curator and art historian Okwui Enwezor contributes an essay analyzing Harris's portraits, situating these works in the context of the artist's work of the past 20 years, as well as in the broader history of the genre. The book also includes a conversation between Harris and artist Chuck Close that took place in 1999, when Harris was beginning the series. With a penetrating foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Excessive Exposure will become a touchstone volume among photo books that can stand at once beside August Sander’s cycle of portraits, Citizens of the 20 th Century, and Andy Warhol’s paintings of the well-known and the unknown.

Copies of Lyle Ashton Harris: Excessive Exposure the Complete Chocolate Portraits are available for purchase and signing at the event.

Lyle Ashton Harris was born in the Bronx and raised in New York City and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. He currently lives and works in New York City and Accra, Ghana. His work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Harris’s work is also regularly featured in publications such as The New York Times Magazine, Vibe, and New York. Harris is an Assistant Professor of Art at New York University and is represented by CRG Gallery in New York.

Chuck Close is a visual artist noted for his highly inventive techniques used to paint the human face, and is best known for his large-scale, photo-based portrait paintings. He is also an accomplished printmaker and photographer whose work has been the subject of more than 200 solo exhibitions in more than 20 countries, including major retrospective exhibitions at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid and most recently at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has also participated in nearly 800 group exhibitions. An award winning artist, Chuck Close was presented with the prestigious National Medal of Arts by President Clinton in 2000.  In 1988 he was paralyzed following a rare spinal artery collapse. He continues to paint using a brush-holding device strapped to his wrist and forearm. He studied at the University of Washington School of Art (B.A., 1962) and at the Yale University School of Art and Architecture (B.F.A., 1963; M.F.A., 1964), receiving honorary degrees from both of his alma maters as well as 20 other institutions. Chuck Close is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, has served on the board of many arts organizations and was recently appointed by President Obama to serve on The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Initiated and organized in 2004 by Arezoo Moseni, Artist Dialogues Series provide an open forum for understanding and appreciation of contemporary art. Artists are paired with critics, curators, gallerists, writers or other artists to converse about art and the potential of exploring new ideas.

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