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Chuck Close Biography

Chuck Close is an American artist known for his monumental photorealist portraits. Close received his B.A. from the University of Washington in 1962 and his M.F.A from Yale University in 1964. Upon graduation, he was chosen for the Fulbright Program grant, which he used to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.

 

Upon his return to the U.S., Close worked as an art teacher at the University of Massachusetts. In 1967, he moved to New York and began his work in SoHo. He was given his first solo exhibition in New York later that same year, followed by an exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. In kindergarten, Close learned that he suffered from prosopagnosia, commonly known as face blindness. He chose portraiture as a way to remember the significant people in his life. With his inability to recognize faces, Close uses a grid system to piece together his portraits. He said, “If you impose a limit to not do something you've done before, it will push you to where you've never gone before." Close suffered from a spinal artery collapse in 1988 that left half of his body paralyzed. Though many thought his artistic career was over, he re-taught himself to paint using a splint. He methodically paints in color or grey scale in low-resolution grid squares across the canvas. Close up his work looks like no more than blocks

of color, but the colors combine to create a photorealistic image as you back away. Close is not only influential in the art world, but his early airbrush techniques also inspired the development of the ink jet printer. His portraits of famous artists are his most sought after works, and his work John (1971-1972) sold with Sotheby’s for $4.8 million in 2005.

 

Chuck Close has work featured in the permanent collections at the Albright-Knox Gallery in New York, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Georgia, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the MCA Chicago, the LACMA, the MFA Houston, the MFA Boston and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. 

 

Related Categories: Close-UpPhotorealisticHyperrealismPhotographic SourcePost-War American ArtPixelatedVisual PerceptionDrawingBlack-and-white PhotographyWork on Paper