Paintings by two well-known American artists will be shown side by side for the first time from April 5 through June 1, 1997, when the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents Chuck Close/Paul Cadmus: In Dialogue. The installation, which will be on view in Gallery 171 on the Museum's first floor, will present Chuck Close's portrait of Paul Cadmus (Paul, 1994, Philadelphia Museum of Art), together with Cadmus's celebrated series, The Seven Deadly Sins (1945-49, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), and The Eighth Sin: Jealousy (1983, Metropolitan Museum of Art). The work of these two artists challenges the conventionally accepted notion that an unbridgeable gap exists between abstract and figurative painting.
Close's portrait of Cadmus is informed by the feelings of friendship and artistic respect which he accords the older artist (Close was born in 1940; Cadmus in 1904). Typical of Close's work since the mid 1980s, Paul is composed of hundreds of colorful ovals, circles and squares, each of which constitutes a miniature, abstract painting. This technique recalls the optical effects of medieval mosaics, the dots of Pointillist painting, and the pixels of computer-generated imagery. While the viewer is likely to encounter Paul first from a distance where it presents a compelling likeness of his fellow artist, closer inspection reveals the breathtaking virtuosity of Close's technique.
Paul Cadmus has been a prominent artist since the 1930s, when he worked for the Works Projects Administration (WPA). Cadmus later began to paint in a Magic Realist style, and continues to produce art to the present day. His masterful draftsmanship recalls the expressive eloquence of Renaissance artists. In the 1940s, Cadmus began to experiment with egg tempera, and later described the precise and delicate nature of its brushstrokes "as being like heartbeats, each equally important yet almost invisible or unnoticeable." His work in egg tempera culminated in The Seven Deadly Sins, haunting representations of myth and allegory in which, although he does not appear, Cadmus sees himself as "all of the Seven Deadly Sins in a way, as you all are too." Later, Cadmus painted The Eighth Sin: Jealousy, and described it as being all the sins combined.
In celebration of the installation, Ann Temkin, the Museum's Curator of 20th-Century Art, will host a conversation with Chuck Close and Paul Cadmus on Wednesday, April 30, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Van Pelt Auditorium. A limited number of free tickets are available for the event, and must be obtained in advance. Admission to the Museum is free for Members. For non-Members, admission is $7.00 for adults, and $4.00 for children, students and seniors. Tickets may be obtained in the Museum lobby or by calling (215) 235-SHOW (a $1.75 service charge will be added to Members' phone orders, and $2.75 to non-Members' phone orders).