There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Chuck Close may be one of contemporary art’s best-regarded portraitists, but his enormous canvases leave little room for imagination. For all the skill he showcases with his precise brushstrokes and the methodological innovations he makes, his portraits are nothing if not literal. The National Portrait Gallery’s latest exhibition, “Face Value,” highlights works that don’t capture subjects in their most realistic forms, instead offering some insight into how the artist viewed the subject. The show features traditional oil self-portraits of acclaimed painters like Elaine de Kooning, but the quirkier stuff prompts questions—draw whatever conclusions you wish from a painted wood portrait of Hugh Hefner (pictured). And for those portrait aficionados looking for something more lifelike, Close’s “Nancy” provides appropriate contrast to the odder works. The exhibition is on view daily, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., to Jan. 11, 2015, at the National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F streets NW. Free. (202) 633-8300. npg.si.edu.