Chuck Close (1940-2021) was renowned for his highly inventive techniques of painting the human face, and best known for his large-scale, photo-based portrait paintings. Since the late 1960s the artist concentrated on portraiture and the human face in painting and photography and was one of the most celebrated artists working today.
After earning his MFA from Yale in 1964, Close took his place atop the American art world by creating large-scale, photo-realistic portraits that have creatively blurred the distinction between photography and painting. In 1988, Close was paralyzed following a rare spinal artery collapse; despite the physical limitations, the artist pressed forward with his work. With a brush taped to his wrist, he continued to paint. In 2000, Close was presented with the prestigious National Medal of Arts by President Clinton and was appointed by President Obama to serve on The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
“Yes, it is hard to paint blur. There are some works I made by using a grid of string to help me perceive changes in depth of focus — something artists have done for centuries. The depth of field in the daguerreotypes is a function of the process of making an image that way, with a very short, very bright flash of light.” —Chuck Close
Although Close has employed various painterly styles throughout his career, he is perhaps best known for his grid set on the diagonal. Close’s paintings are all-over images where the background of the picture – the negative space – is as important as the face itself and one cannot exist without the other. The artist often takes his family and friends as models, making monumental and classical works that are bold in their simplicity. His work has been the subject of more than 200 solo exhibitions in more than 20 countries, including major retrospective exhibitions at New York's Museum of Modern Art, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia de Madrid as well as at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.