Chuck Close (b. 1940, Monroe, Wash.) received a BA from the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1961, and both a BFA and an MFA from the Yale University School of Art and Architecture, New Haven, Conn., in 1963 and 1964.
Considered one of the preeminent artists of the post-war era, Close has redefined portraiture and expanded the boundaries of painting, printmaking, and photography. He has investigated the working process of art-making on its most fundamental levels and has defied singular categorization; Close’s art has been described as a hybrid of realism, abstraction and minimalism. Best known for monumental self-portraits and images of colleagues, family, and friends, Close started making photographs in the mid-1960s, which would later become the basis for his paintings. His interest in photography and its possibilities did not fully develop until the late 1970s and early 1980s, when he began creating portrait series using 20 x 24 and 40 x 80 Polaroid cameras. In 1997 Close began experimenting with daguerreotypes, one of photography’s first successful processes developed in 1839.
Since his first solo show in 1967, Close has had over 100 one-man exhibitions, such as the traveling retrospectives “Close Portraits,” organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1980-81) and “Chuck Close,” originated by the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998-99). Recent traveling shows include “Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration,” an exhibition which stopped at some ten venues across the United States (2003-07), and “Chuck Close: Self Portraits 1967-2005,” mounted by the Walker Art Center and appearing at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2005-06). The show “Chuck Close: Seven Portraits” marks the artist’s first exhibition in Russia and can be seen at The State Hermitage in St. Petersburg (February-April 2008).
Close is the recipient of many honors and awards, including a Fulbright grant to study in Austria (1964-65); a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1973); the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Art (1990); the Academy Institute Award in Art from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York (1991); the New York State Governor’s Award (1997); the National Medal of Arts (2000); and gold medals from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (2004), the American Academy in Rome (2004), and the National Arts Club (2005). Close has also received over ten honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in the United States.
His work can be found in private and public collections worldwide, such as the Art Institute of Chicago; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; the Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, N.Y.; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Tate Gallery, London; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Monographs on Close’s work include Chuck Close (1987); Chuck Close in conversation with 27 of his subjects (1997); Chuck Close: Life and Work 1988-1995 (1995); Chuck Close Up Close (1998); Chuck Close Daguerreotypes (2002); and Chuck Close: Work (2007).
Close lives and works in New York City and Long Island, N.Y.