Artist Story: Chuck Close

Today I'm excited to share with you one of my favorite artists that I studied in college. He is incredibly 
talented and driven even through really tough circumstances. We can learn so much from him! Enjoy...

Chuck Close was born July 5, 1040 with learning and physical disabilities. He had a hard time with school so he found comfort in making art. He eventually earned an MFA from Yale and started painting large photo-realist portraits that challenge the difference in photography and painting! (seriously! Check out these paintings...)

When Close was 14 he saw a Jackson Pollock drip painting that he couldn't stop thinking about! He ended up dripping paint over his own paintings and realizing that art could be something he never thought possible.
His early paintings were created from large Polaroids of models (usually family and friends) that he would paint on large canvases. His portraits were intimate and sometimes off-putting, as you could see every detail of a person’s face good and bad. One of Chuck Close's disabilities is Prosopagnosia or “face blindness” in which he is unable to recognize faces. He didn't discover until later that he was creating portraits as a way to remember! I saw a couple of his paintings at the Met in New York and it’s incredible that a painting could look so much like a photograph! His techniques were unique in that aspect, but also with his application of color. He inspired the idea of the inkjet printer!
Close did a lot of experimenting with his paintings and at one point he threw away all of his paint brushes so he could focus more on painting! He ended up trying some techniques that helped him create colorful portraits using a grid that would help him in the future. Sometimes he "painted" using just his fingerprints! (See the black and white woman below.)

In 1988 he had a traumatic rupture of a spinal artery that left him almost completely paralyzed. His wife insisted that his physical therapy focus on the actions needed for painting and Close was able to regain partial use of his limbs! He remained confined to a wheelchair but that didn't keep him from painting. He taped a paint brush to his wrist and took a much less detailed and more abstract approach. He has a studio with a two-story, remote-control easel and with the help of some assistants, he continues to create and astound! Now in his 70’s he is creating a new body of work that is a study in Daguerrotype photography.

I hope you have enjoyed learning about Chuck Close and found inspiration in his story! I love writing these "Artist Story" posts because I always learn new things about artists I love or learn about an artist that is completely new to me!

(Sources: Biography.com,Wikipedia, Theartstory.org, Pbs.org and photos from Pinterest)

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