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About Chuck Close - American Artist

Katherine has researched and written about many American and Australian Artists - both past and present


An Introduction to Chuck Close (1940-present)

This site is about the American artist Chuck Close. It presents information about his life, self-portraits, portrait paintings, fine art prints and other artwork.

You can find out about:

  • museums and art galleries, exhibitions and websites where you can see his work,
  • books and articles about his artwork and his life and
  • other resources for artists wanting to improve their knowledge about Chuck Close, his views on art and his own work, his techniques and reviews by others of his work.

Note that works by this artist are not in the public domain. Chuck Close is alive and all his work is protected by international copyright laws until at least 70 years after his death.

Chuck Close quotation

Chuck Close quotation

BOOK: Chuck Close: Life - by Christopher Finch

This is a companion book to the book "Chuck Close" Work" which provides pictures of his work - and a more traditional biography

It's about how he creates visual solutions to logical problems.

This book is about his resilience and independence. It tackles topics such as his health issues which have both challenged and transformed his art. He has a condition which means he can't see faces so he paints portraits. He experiences temporary quadriplegia so devises a way to paint with much more limited dexterity.

Art may have saved his life, but his inner workings enabled him to make great art in the first place.

About Chuck Close - Biographical and other aspects of his life

Chuck Close is an American Artist. He is a master painter and printmaker and is an influential figurative artist. He lives and works in New York

He is most well known for his massive portrait paintings.

He suffers from Prosopagnosia (face blindness). This means he cannot recognise faces. Creating two dimensional flattened paintings of his friends enabled him to learn what they looked like.

He considers he has been able to remain interested in portraiture for so long because it continues to present him with a challenge

Initially his paintings in the late 1960s were hyperrealist "big heads" created from photographic stills - they looked like photographs but were created in paint.

He now frequently works within a grid system using abstract patterning which creates a painting which looks very real from a distance. It's as if he paints the shapes of the pixels

A catastrophic event in 1988 left him paralysed and confined to a wheelchair. He continues to paint but needed to find a new approach. His brushes are now strapped to his hand and he needs to use one hand to support the other


1940: Close was born in Monroe, Wisconsin

1958-62: Close graduated with a degree from the University of Washington, Seattle

1963: Graduated B.F.A. from Yale University School of Art and Architecture, New Haven. While at Yale, he's said to have considered himself to be a junior Abstract Expressionist but change direction once he realised this was no longer a path to success.

1964: Graduated M.F.A. from Yale University School of Art and Architecture, New Haven.

  • He gained a reputation for being very skilful with a brush
  • Travelled to Europe on a Fulbright grant. Studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Knste in Vienna.
  • Worked as an art teacher at the University of Massachusetts.

1967: Decided to abandon painting using a paintbrush. Determined he needed to choose to do things he wasn't good at

1968: Produces "Self-Portrait" a large scale monochrome self-portrait painting on canvas. In this painting he incorporated all the details from the photograph and allowed absolutely no scope for interpretation. Continued to work in a similar vein in black and white until 1970

1988: Close suffered a spinal artery collapse. He was paralysed from the neck down and has been confined to a wheelchair ever since although he has regained some movement. Close refers to this experience as "The Event".

  • He has continued to paint and to exhibit
  • The paralysis he experiences post "event" restricts his ability to paint. He started to paint in grids on very large canvases set up by his assistants. The canvas is manipulated by assistants so he can paint the grid in front of him.

He has also explored new ways of making art. Recent new developments since 2000 include the production of a wood block print (working with master printer Yasu Shibata), the use of digital technology to produce watercolour prints and tapestries


  • 1992: Elected a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York.
  • 1995: Receives Honorary Doctor of Fine Art from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
  • 1996: Awarded an Honorary Doctor of Fine Art from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
  • 2000: Awarded the prestigious National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.

BOOKS: Chuck Close: Work - published April 2010

This book is the visual companion to Christopher Fincham's biography of Chuck Close called "Life". It provides the very first in-depth analysis of the portraits of Chuck Close and to locate these within a review his career and its context. It conveys the personality of the artist and also his pictorial strategies for engaging with portraiture in various different ways.

Rated: 4.9 out of 5 stars by 15 customer reviews

The images highlight the range of his work which has ranged from nine-foot-tall, black-and-white likenesses of himself and fellow artists painted in the 60s and 70s to the grid paintings of the two decades which followed his catastrophic spinal injury. Plus fine art prints and photography.

"I wanted to translate from one flat surface to another.In fact, my learning disabilities controlled a lot of things. I don't recognize faces, so I'm sure it's what drove me to portraits in the first place."

— Chuck Close

Chuck Close - images online - how to see his art on the Internet

These are places you can see Chuck Close's artwork online

"All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you.If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens.But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction."

— Chuck Close

Chuck Close - the painting process - painting processes vary between before and after "The Event"

Below you can find links to sites which explain Chuck Close's paintings processes over time

  • Chuck Close: Process & Collaboration
    Chuck Close's paintings are labor-intensive and time-consuming, and his prints are more so. While a painting can occupy Close for months, it is not unusual for one print to take upward of two years to complete, from conception to final edition.
  • L&S Video: Chuck Close: Close Up
    Chuck Close paints oversized, closely cropped images. "As an artist I am interested in the face," says Close. Working from photographs and employing a grid ...
  • ArtsNet Minnesota: Identity: Chuck Close
    Chuck Close is associated with the style of painting called Photorealism or Superrealism. In this style, artists in the early 1970s created a link between representational systems of painting and photography. Photorealism developed as a reaction to t
  • No Cigar - By Christopher Benfey - Slate Magazine
    The austere installation of Chuck Close's big portraits at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City begins where any artist wants the narrative of his career to begin: with fully achieved art...........While moving into color, Close found ways to en
  • washingtonpost.com: Style Live: Chuck Close
    Using a black-and-white photograph overlaid with a grid, Close created his earliest monumental paintings with an air brush and boundless patience. He took as his guiding philosophy the idea that, as he says, "the process will set you free."
  • Fanny/Fingerpainting
    Chuck Close (artist) American, born 1940Fanny/Fingerpainting, 1985oil on canvasoverall: 259.1 x 213.4 x 6.3 cm (102 x 84 x 2 1/2 in.)Fanny/Fingerpainting, a portrait of Close's mother-in-law, represents one of the largest and most masterly executions

"Art saved my life"

— Chuck Close

Chuck Close - Prints and printing process

Chuck Close is less well know for his fine art prints but they are an important part of his artwork

  • Chuck Close: Process & Collaboration
    The different type of printmaking processes used by Chuck Close
  • Chuck Close: Exhibition Information
    September 13 through November 23, 2003For more than 30 years, Chuck Close-renowned as one of America's foremost artists in any media-has explored the art of printmaking in his continuing investigation into the principles of perception. This exhibitio

My prints have been truly collaborative even though control is something that I give up reluctantly.

— Chuck Close

Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration - by Corcoran Gallery of Art

Chuck Close - Photography

Chuck Close - Tapestries

Chuck Close in Museums and Art Galleries

Links to work by Chuck Close in art museums and galleries


1967: Exhibition - "Chuck Close", University of Massachusetts Art Gallery, Amherst, Massachusetts, (January 8-February 1, 1967)

1968: Produces "Self-Portrait" a large scale monochrome self-portrait painting on canvas. In this painting he incorporated all the details from the photograph and allowed absolutely no scope for interpretation. Continued to work in a similar vein in black and white until 1970

1970: Exhibition - "Chuck Close" Bykert Gallery, New York, (February 28-March 28, 1970)

1971: Exhibition - "Chuck Close: Recent Work", Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, (September 21-November 14, 1971)

1971-2: Exhibition - "Chuck Close: Recent Work", Bykert Gallery, New York, (December 4, 1971-January 5 1972)

1972: Exhibition - "Chuck Close" Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, February 5-March 19, 1972

1972: MOMA buys one of his prints - Keith/Mezzotint

1973: Close 's first major Exhibition "Project 11: Chuck Close/Liliana Porter" at Museum of Modern Art in New York (January 11 to February 25, 1973)

1975: Exhibition - "Chuck Close: Keith" at Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina, (January 5 to February 2, 1975)

1978: Begins finger painting, later developing this in fingerpaint lithographs

1979: Exhibition - Work included in the Whitney Biennial.

1982: Exhibition - "Chuck Close: Paperwork" at the Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago, (September to October 1982)

1984: Exhibition - "Chuck Close: Handmade Paper Editions", Herbert Palmer Gallery, Los Angeles, February 4-March 16, 1984.

1986: Exhibition - "Chuck Close: New Etchings", Pace Editions, New York, (February 12-March 22, 1986)

1988: Exhibition - "Chuck Close: Prints and Photographs" New York, (September 23-October 22, 1988)

1989: Exhibition - "Chuck Close" The Art Institute of Chicago, (February 4-April 16, 1989)

2000: Exhibition - Chuck Close, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts, December 9, 2000-March 25, 2001.

2001: Exhibition - "Chuck Close Self-Portraits, 1967-2001", Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, March 8-April 28, 2001

2002: Exhibition - "Chuck Close: Portraits", The American Academy in Rome, (February 22-April 21, 2002)

Chuck Close - Recent Exhibitions

This is a record of more recent exhibitions in the last few years

The Pace Gallery has represented Chuck Close since 1977

Interviews with Chuck Close

I once attended a talk by Chuck Close at the National Portrait Gallery in London - and he was absolutely fascinating to listen to.If you ever get a chance to hear him speak I RECOMMEND you get a ticket as it's very well worthwhile.

Articles about Chuck Close

These are various articles about Chuck Close - typically produced in relation to the publication of a new art book or in relation to a new art exhibition based on his work

Book Reviews - of books about or by Chuck Close

  • lens culture photo book review: Chuck Close
    A Couple Ways of Doing SomethingPhotographs by Chuck Close and poems by Bob HolmanChuck Close has almost always used photographs as source material to create his artful portraits, whether in his painstakingly hyper-realistic larger-than-life painting

Chuck Close - blogs and blogging

Blog posts about Chuck Close

Comments and Suggestions - Let me know what you think - but please do not spam

seosmm on January 08, 2012:

Very nice lens!

sukkran trichy from Trichy/Tamil Nadu on June 25, 2011:

lot of useful resources for chuck close art work. thanks for the informative chuck close videos.~blessed~

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