Chuck Close is an American painter and photographer who achieved fame as a photorealist; paintings based on using cameras and photographs to gather visual information and then from this, creating a painting that appears to be photographic. Close was born on July 5, 1940, in Monroe, Washington. Since a young boy he had a desire for art, throughout his childhood he had quite a few rough times whether it was his parents becoming very ill or his own health taking a turn for the worst.
At the age of 11, Chuck spent most of that year in bed with nephritis, a nasty kidney infection. Through all of those hard times, Close deepened his love for painting and art in general. His inspiration struck at the age of 14 when he saw an exhibition of Jackson Pollack paintings. Pollack’s style and flair had a great impact on Close, and, as he later recounted, it made him determined to become an artist. Chuck eventually enrolled at the University of Washington, graduating in 1962; he then headed to Yale to study for a Master of Fine Arts from the university’s Art and Architecture School.
Close stayed heavy in the abstract world, radically changing his focus to what would become his signature style: photo-realism. Using a process he came to describe as “knitting,” Close created large-format Polaroid’s of models that he then recreated on large canvases. The reason why Chuck Close is such an inspirational artist for me is not only because of his life like paintings that are so appealing, but for what he all went through. In 1988, Close felt a strange pain in his chest, that day he was at a ceremony honoring local artists in New York City and was waiting to be called to the podium to present an award.
Later that evening he had suffered a seizure which left him paralyzed from the neck down, the cause was diagnosed as a spinal artery collapse. For months Close was in rehab strengthening his muscles with physical therapy; he soon had slight movement in his arms and could walk, yet only for a few steps. He has relied on a wheelchair and a device that steadies his hand ever since. Also one fact that I have never known about Close until I studied him a little bit further was he also suffers from Prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness, in which he is unable to recognize faces.
By painting portraits, he is able to recognize and remember faces. Close has said, “I was not conscious of making a decision to paint portraits because I have difficulty recognizing faces. That occurred to me twenty years after the fact when I looked at why I was still painting portraits why that still had urgency for me. I began to realize that it has sustained me for so long because I have difficulty in recognizing faces. ” This man is more than just a painter, photographer, and printmaker; he is a builder who, in his words, builds “painting experiences for the viewer. Highly renowned as a painter, Close is also a master printmaker, who has, over the course of more than 30 years, pushed the boundaries of traditional printmaking in remarkable ways. Over the years, Close’s works have evolved from harsh black-and-white images to colorful and brightly patterned canvases of an almost abstract appeal. His most recent pictures synthesize Close’s long-standing interest in the spontaneous manner of the Abstract Expressionists, with his strict adherence to the self-imposed rules that have guided his art from the very beginning.