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The Art Story Homepage Artists Chuck Close
Chuck Close Photo

Chuck Close

American Painter and Photographer

Movement: Photorealism

Born: July 5, 1940 - Monroe, Washington

Chuck Close Timeline

"I'm pre-pixel. They got it from me."

Chuck Close Signature

Summary of Chuck Close

Chuck Close is globally renowned for reinvigorating the art of portrait painting from the late 1960s to the present day, an era when photography had been challenging painting's former dominance in this area, and succeeding in steadily gaining critical appreciation as an artistic medium in its own right. Close emerged from the 1970s painting movement of Photorealism, also known as Super-Realism, but then moved well beyond its initially hyper-attentive rendering of a given subject to explore how methodical, system-driven portrait painting based on photography's underlying processes (over its superficial visual appearances) could suggest a wide range of artistic and philosophical concepts. In addition, Close's personal struggles with dyslexia and subsequently, partial paralysis, have suggested real-life parallels to his professional discipline, as though his methodical and yet also quite intuitive methods of painting are inseparable from his own daily reckoning with the body's own vulnerable, material condition.

Key Ideas

Photorealist painting of the 1970s celebrated the glossy, mirror-like "look" of the photograph, but after achieving that ideal, Close swiftly turned to portraiture, suggesting it as a means for exploring unsettling aspects of how self identity is always a composite and highly constructed, if not ultimately conflicted fiction.
Close's dependence on the grid as a metaphor for his analytical processes, which suggest that the "whole" is rarely more (or less) than the sum of its parts, is a conceptual equivalent for the camera's analytical, serial approach to any given subject. Every street-smart, colorful Polaroid is as much a time-based and fragmentary gesture as any more laborious stroke of the painter's brush in the cloistered studio.
Close has worked with oil and acrylic painting, photography, mezzotint printing, and various additional media. Shifting confidently from one to the other, Close suggests that his conceptual intentions are ultimately timeless, whereas his tools or materials are infinitely interchangeable. This is partly why Close's practice of portrait painting has for over forty years remained surprisingly "contemporary," even while the larger movement of Photorealism, his earliest chosen stylistic idiom, has long receded into history.
Close's slow, accumulative processes, which enlist numerous abstract color applications in the service of producing "realistic," or illusory portraits, most recently finds application in the art of modern tapestry via a highly illusionistic, computer-aided method of industrial weaving that Close favors for its ability to suggest the hyper-real appearance of 19th century glass photographs(daguerreotypes).
Chuck Close, self-portrait (2016). Ceramic tile at the 86th's Street Subway Station in New York City
Chuck Close, self-portrait (2016). Ceramic tile at the 86th's Street Subway Station in New York City

Describing how, "I discovered about 150 dots is the minimum number of dots to make a specific recognizable person," Chuck Close pioneered Photorealism. "By putting little marks together," he said his monumental portraits conveyed how, "a face is a road map of someone's life."

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Chuck Close
Interactive chart with Chuck Close's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Show influences

Artists

Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Sol LeWittSol LeWitt
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning

Personal Contacts

Philip GlassPhilip Glass
Alex KatzAlex Katz

Movements

Pop ArtPop Art
Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
Influences on Artist
Influences on Artist
Chuck Close
Chuck Close
Years Worked: 1965-present
Influenced by Artist
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Ross BlecknerRoss Bleckner

Personal Contacts

Philip GlassPhilip Glass
Christopher FinchChristopher Finch

Movements

PhotorealismPhotorealism

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 01 Aug 2011. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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