Chuck Close Facts

Chuck close was a painter and photographer from America. He is best known for his massive photo-realist portraits.

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Facts About Chuck Close

  • Chuck Close was born in 1940 in Monroe, Washington, US as Charles Thomas Close.
  • He had a difficult childhood. His father died when he was just eleven, he suffered from a neuromuscular condition that made it difficult to move his feet, he missed most of the sixth grade with nephritis (an inflammation of the kidneys), and he was dyslexic (which wasn’t diagnosed at the time).
  • Chuck Close had prosopagnosia (an impaired ability to recognise familiar faces). As a result, his earliest huge photorealist portraits are based on photographs of family and friends.
  • He was inspired by seeing Jackson Pollock’s work at the Seattle Art Museum when he was fourteen years old.
  • He attended Everett Community College and the University of Washington (Seattle). He received an MFA from Yale Summer School of Music and Art in 1964.
  • Some of his Yale classmates included the artists Janet Fish, Nancy Graves, Bric Marden, Robert Mangold, and Vija Celmins.
  • In the mid-1960s, Chuck Close studied at Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts.
  • Although his work mainly focused on photorealistic portraits, and he often transferred a photographic image onto his canvas using a grid technique, he has experimented with different approaches and mediums, including ink, graphite, watercolour, crayon, collage, airbrush, and fingerpainting.

A face is a road map of someone’s life. Without any need to amplify that or draw attention to it, there’s a great deal that’s communicated about who this person is and what their life experiences have been.

Chuck Close
  • In 1988, Chuck Close suffered a seizure, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. After undergoing a programme of rehabilitation, some movement returned to his hands and arms, and he was able to walk a few steps.
  • After 1988, he regularly used a wheelchair to get about.
  • He continued to paint, using a paintbrush strapped to his wrist. He adapted his technique to combine inked fingerprints and collages to produce realistic portraits. The portraits he made during his final years were often of other portrait artists, including Cecily Brown, Zhang Huan, Kiki Smith, and Cindy Sherman.
  • Chuck Close also experimented with printmaking techniques and tapestry.
  • In 2014, Chuck Close was commissioned by Vanity Fair to photograph celebrities including Robert De Niro, Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts, and Scarlett Johansson. He requested that his subjects didn’t wear makeup, and he used a large format 20″ x 24″ Polaroid camera.
  • His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in countries all over the world, including London, Houston, Madrid, St Petersburg, New York, Sydney, Paris, Minneapolis, and Venice.
  • Chuck Close was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia in 2015. He died from heart failure in 2021. He was 81 years old.

Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightening to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.

Chuck Close