Chuck Close

Biography of Chuck Close

Chuck Close revolutionized portrait painting at a time when the genre was becoming neglected in favor of photography in the 1960s. The artist frequently works from gridded photographic stills, using the principles of pixilation to create large-scale monochrome and color paintings that range from photorealist to mildly psychedelic. In an idiosyncratic fusion of craftsmanship and technology, Close moves seamlessly from one medium to the other, mastering a broad range of painting, drawing, and printmaking techniques in order to push the boundaries of portraiture in new and unforeseen ways.

 

Interestingly, Close suffers from prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces. The artist's work allows him to improve his visual memory of faces and partially explains his ongoing fascination with the genre. As Close has observed; "I was not conscious of making a decision to paint portraits because I have difficulty recognizing faces. That occurred to me twenty years after the fact when I looked at why I was still painting portraits, why that still had urgency for me." A breakdown of facial traits into tiny patches of paint, Close’s artworks are a way of understanding the human face, a form of optical training, both for the artist, but also for the viewer.

 

Born in 1940, Close has been the subject of many exhibitions in important museums and institutions around the world, including a comprehensive retrospective at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia de Madrid in 2006 and dedicated show at the State Hermitage Museum in 2008. He has also participated in documentas V (1972) and VI (1977) as well as the Venice Biennale (1993, 1995, 2003). Close's work can be found in the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and Tate Modern in London, amongst others.

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