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Chuck Close, the First Amendment, Bob Dylan and me

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In 1967, Chuck Close was a young, quaintly impoverished, adjunct instructor in the University of Massachusetts-Amherst art department. He resided in a small flat near the university in one of the small towns in what was called “The Pioneer Valley.” Once the brouhaha began, he took to calling himself “The Pioneer Valley Pornographer.”

Mr. (not Professor ) Close had a big problem (to him and the local ACLU), since his public employer had for reasons unknown granted him a one-man show in a large gallery space. Then, in the middle of the night, its minions had simply and stealthily removed it. Chuck had apparently developed an artistic technique of superimposing a photo of a head on a body in a painting. By far the most prominent work in the exhibition was a large, colorful depiction of a nude Bob Dylan presiding over an oriental bacchanal. The troubadour was clearly well-endowed. There were, of course, other works in the display, but obviously more mundane. All were removed and spirited away.

As Close’s........

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