America Is Hard to See

Solo en Inglès

This audio guide highlights selected works by artists in America Is Hard to See. Curators, scholars, and artists provide additional commentary.

502Chuck Close, Phil, 1969


Chuck Close (b. 1940). _Phil_, 1969. Acrylic and graphite pencil on canvas, 108 1/4 × 84 in. (275 × 213.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from Mrs. Robert M. Benjamin 69.102 © Chuck Close, 1969

NARRATOR: Chuck Close has used the photograph this painting is based on many times over the years. It is of the artist’s friend, Philip Glass. But the painting, from 1969, was his first portrait of Glass, who later became one of America’s best-known composers. 

PHILIP GLASS: My reaction to the picture? I never really think of me as the picture, in fact it’s always just been an image, I don’t feel attached to it at all. Though other people might say, there’s Phil, but I never say that. I don’t think, when Monet was doing haystacks, the haystacks thought, hey I’m the haystack, it’s just another haystack [LAUGHS].I don’t think it was a portrait in the sense that when Rembrandt did a portrait or when Van Gogh did a portrait those portraits were partly to reveal some character of the person, the portraits were about the person. If these are portraits at all and I don’t think they are they’re not about revealing the portrait of the person they’re about revealing the artist.

NARRATOR: To hear Glass describe sitting for the photograph that Close used to make the painting, please tap the button to continue.