Chuck Close (American, b.1940) is best known for his large-scale Photorealist portraits, composed of tiny airbrush bursts, thumbprints, or looping, multicolored brushstrokes. In 1962, Close received his BA from the University of Washington in Seattle, followed by his MFA at Yale University in 1964. Three years later, he moved to New York, where he was one of the founders of Photorealistic painting, working at first in black and white before shifting to colorful, bright, and almost abstract paintings.
In 1988, Close was diagnosed with a rare spinal artery collapse, which he refers to as “The Event,” and has been forced to paint in a wheelchair ever since. However, his artwork has evolved to accommodate his new circumstances, incorporating pixelated squares of color, which he paints with a brush strapped to his wrist, and which, from far away, create the effect of a unified composition.
Close systematically composes his paintings with a grid format, which is often visible in the finished work; his most recent works combine his methodical grid with the spontaneous brushwork of the Abstract Expressionists. The subjects of his portraits are usually his family and friends, including artists such as Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Alex Katz, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg.
His work is widely esteemed and has been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art and PS1 in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Tate Modern in London, among many other institutions. In 2000, Close was presented with the prestigious National Medal of Arts by President Clinton. Close is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, has served on the board of many arts organizations, and was recently appointed by President Obama to serve on The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. In November 2014, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia presented the largest exhibition of Close’s work ever presented in the southern hemisphere.
Close lives and works in New York City and Long Island.