Chuck Close was born on July 5, 1940 in Monroe, Washington. His father, Leslie Durward Close, died when he was a young boy, and he was raised by his mother, Mildred Wagner Close. He attended Everett Community College from 1958 to 1960 before continuing on on the University of Washington in Seattle, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1962. From there, he attended Yale University for graduate studies, receiving his Master of Fine Arts in 1964. After graduating from Yale University, Close moved on to the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, where he studied on a Fulbright grant. Upon his return to the United States, he began to teach at the University of Massachusetts. Eventually, Close made his way to New York City, where he settled in SoHo and began making a life for himself in New York.
Close cites several artists as his influences and inspirations, including Jackson Pollock. Close reflects on an early experience with a Pollock painting at the Seattle Museum of Art by saying “I went to the Seattle Art Museum with my mother for the first time when I was 14.I saw this Jackson Pollock drip painting with aluminum paint, tar, gravel and all that stuff. I was absolutely outraged, disturbed. It was so far removed from what I thought art was. However, within 2 or 3 days, I was dripping paint all over my old paintings. In a way I’ve been chasing that experience ever since.”
Most of the early works of Chuck Close are huge, large scale portraits based on photos — a technique that is known as photorealism, or hyper realism. His subjects most frequently included friends and family, as well as other artists. A lesser known fact is that Closer suffers from prosopagnosia, or facial blindness, which is why he believes he felt inspired to work in photorealism.
Late in 1988, Close suffered a seizure which, unfortunately, left him paralyzed from the neck down. However, with physical therapy he improved and regained some mobility. He didn’t let this stop him, and he continued to paint with a brush strapped to his wrist.
The early works of Chuck Close have often been described as being “intimate,” “bold,” and “upfront.” One of his signature traits was replicating unique traits and characteristics of each face that he painted. Possibly the most noticeable thing about his work is the way that it blended photography and painting and blurred the lines of the two mediums in a way that had never been seen or done before.
Some of the most well known works of Chuck Close include the following:
- Fanny (fingerpainting)
- Robert / 104,72
- Artist Kara Walker
- Self Portrait
- Scribble / Etching Portfolio
About Hamilton Selway
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