Early Chuck Close Work Found in Closet to be Auctioned; Alex Katz' Focus on Fashion; A Look at the Drawings of Jonas Wood

I’m pre-pixel. They got it from me. - Chuck Close

Chuck Close (1940-2021) taught art at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1965 to 1967. The university gave him his first solo show...and then took it away. The show included nudes of both males and females and was shut down because it was considered "indecent."


In a case that is still debated in law schools, Close sued the school on First Amendment grounds, He was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Association of University Professors. A Massachusetts Supreme Court justice initially ruled the exhibit should remain open, but the case was lost on appeal.Close lost both the case and his job. He moved to New York and became one of America's most influential artists. (UMass gave him an honorary doctorate in 1995.)


The lawyer who defended him at UMass, Isidore Silver, also moved to New York and taught law. Silver eventually retired with a toy poodle named Philipe and an early Chuck Close painting that was rolled up in his closet for about fifty years. 


When Silver died, last March, his dog walker, Mark Herman, took Philipe...and the painting. Herman contacted several auction houses, but because the work could not be authenticated, the auction houses wouldn't try to find a buyer. He even took it to Sotheby's, where the large painting was placed on stretchers, but Sotheby's declined to auction it. They charged Herman $1,742 for stretching the painting. He had to rent a van for $125 to avoid  the  storage fees Sotheby's said he would be charged him he didn't go and get the painting.


A few weeks ago, Herman received some good news; An archivist at UMass found a picture of the painting in a 1967 edition of the student newspaper. That authenticating proof led Heritage Auction house to agree to auction the painting. It's estimated to go for $20,000 to $30,000, but its history certainly adds color, and maybe value, to the work. The auction is scheduled for November 15th.



After Alex Katz' (b.1927)  triumphant retrospective at the Guggenheim earlier this year, the artist is back at work and has even found the time to help curate an exhibit of his work at the Portland Museum  of Art in Maine. Alex Katz: Wedding Dress is an exhibit of large-scale paintings that focus on Katz' interest in art and fashion. 


The exhibit opened in June and will be on display through June 2, 2024.



The drawings of Jonas Wood (b. 1977) are on view at the Karma Gallery in New York. The show includes 100 drawings that Wood has done over the last tweny years. Many are recognizable as the basis for his paintings. 


"I think about anything that is on paper as a drawing. I make a considerable amount of drawings to rigorously prepare my paintings or a detailed study that I use as a model to paint. When I paint, I paint a lot from sketches I’ve made. I read and try to interpret them in painting." Wood said in an Artnews interview. "Right, drawing, personally, is facilitating how to make the best possible painting."


Jonas Wood: Drawings 2003-2023 will be on display at Karma  in New York through August 18, 2023 and will then travel to Karma in Los Angeles in November.



John Leland. The Dog Walker With the Chuck Close Painting Finally Has His Day. The New York Times. August 10, 2023.
John Leland. Was the Rolled-Up Painting in the Dog Walker’s Closet Worth Millions? The New York Times. July 23, 2023.
Steve Pfarrer. Back in Black — and White and Color: UMass exhibit debuts iconic photography of one-time art teacher Chuck Close. Daily Hampshire Gazette. November 13, 2015.
Ekin Erkan. Jonas Wood: Drawings 2003–2023. The Brooklyn Rail. July/August 2023.
Amadour. Artist Jonas Wood Discusses His Latest Exhibition Focused on His Drawing Practice, ‘The Backbone of His Studio Practice’. ARTnews. August 7, 2023.

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