Chuck Close

I always tried to put in unbelievable amounts of detail and information. If I didn't put that kind of time and energy into it, I didn't feel like I had done my job. A commitment over a long period of time is essential to the method of building something incrementally.

In 1998, Chuck Close had a retrospective of his paintings at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. One of many laudatory reviews was in the Wall Street Journal, where Francine Prose wrote that “to spend time among these paintings is like acquiring a brand-new sense, or one tuning an old one. What changes is our consciousness of how we see—and see the face, in particular. In their ability to make us mindful of the processes by which images come together in the brain, in life, and on canvas, Mr. Close’s works offer revelatory, emotionally charged information about what’s behind, and in front of, our eyes.”

Close was born in Monroe, Washington, in 1940, and attended Everett Community College in 1958–60. In 1961 he won a coveted scholarship to the Yale Summer School of Music and Art, and the following year entered the degree program at the Yale School of Art. His fellow students included many artists who are influential today, among them Richard Serra, Nancy Graves, Brice Marden, Robert Mangold, and Sylvia Plimack Mangold. Close received both a BFA and an MFA from Yale. He lived in Vienna, Austria, on a Fulbright grant in 1964–65, and after that settled in New York City.

Close began exhibiting at New York’s Bykert Gallery in 1970, the year it was founded, and showed there regularly until 1977, when he joined Pace Gallery. His first museum exhibition was at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1971. In 1973 the Museum of Modern Art in New York presented a show focusing on one print, Keith, made at Crown Point Press a year earlier, along with working proofs. Close was a printmaker throughout his career, with most of his prints published by Pace Editions, New York. Close’s list of museum exhibitions is long and prestigious. His work is in the collections of most of the great international museums of contemporary art, including the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. An exhibition of his prints was organized in 2003 by the Art Museum of the University of Houston in Texas and traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among other venues. Chuck Close died in 2021.

-Kathan Brown, Crown Point Press


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