Since the late 1960s Chuck Close has been concentrating on portraiture and the human face in painting and photography and is one of the most celebrated artists working today. Close often takes his family and friends as models, making monumental and classical works that are both bold in their simplicity as well as intangible, since the images appear as if they have been viewed through a thick layer of glass or are rippling on the surface of water. In this way, the subjects of his paintings can seem like apparitions, dissolving and resolving when viewed from different distances.
Although Close has employed various painterly styles throughout his career, including an intense neo-realism in the 1970s and a shadowy Pointillism in the 1980s, he is perhaps best known for his more recent works which are made up from a shimmering, fragile 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. Likewise, in Close’s daguerreotype photographs, the background defines the limit of the image plane as well as the outline of the subject, with the inky pitch-black setting off the light, reflective quality of the subject’s face. Close’s method of painting is always indexical, an incremental process whereby associative colours and shapes build up a pictorial syntax and a recognisable figurative whole. Warm colours are set against cold, circles against squares and the organising principles of the grid are constantly broken by minute areas of expressive abstraction.
Chuck Close was born in 1940 in Monroe, Washington and lives and works in New York City and Long Island. He has exhibited extensively including solo exhibitions at Parrish Art Museum, Southhampton, New York touring to NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia and other venues (2015–17); White Cube, London touring to The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg (2007–08); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid touring to Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany (2007); Aperture Foundation, New York touring to Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Austin Museum of Art, Texas and other venues (2006–13); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis touring to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York (2005–06); Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, Texas touring to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Miami Art Museum, Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria, White Cube, London, Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney and other venues (2003–16); and The Museum of Modern Art, New York touring to Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, Seattle Art Museum, Washington and The Hayward Gallery, London (1998–99). Selected group exhibitions include The National Gallery, London (2018); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017); 50th Venice Biennale (2003); 46th Venice Biennale (1995); 45th Venice Biennale (1993); Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (1995 and 1996); Whitney Biennale, New York (1991); Documenta 6, Kassel, Germany (1977); and Documenta 5, Kassel, Germany (1972).