“Painting is a lie. It’s the most magic of all media, the most transcendent. It makes space where there is no space.”
Chuck Close (Monroe, Washington, 1940 – Oceanside, New York, 2021) is distinguished by his monumental self-portraits and portraits of friends and family using a variety of means through which he revitalized the genre of portraiture. Close turned to art as a child as a way to deal with a learning disability before receiving a BA from the University of Washington and an MFA from Yale University. Originally painting in an abstract expressionist style, the artist turned to realism after moving to New York, creating large monochromatic black and white portraits of himself and friends based on photographs with the use of a grid. These were included in his first solo exhibition. In the 1970s, he expanded his palette and began to experiment with dots and collages before emphasizing the grid used to transpose the image. Close also experimented with an assortment of techniques, including but not limited to pastel, conté crayon, and painting with his fingerprints. In 1988, he suffered a spinal artery collapse and became paralyzed but was able to continue to paint using a device strapped to his wrist. Close then created daguerreotypes and prints as well as tapestry portraits.