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Chuck Thomas Close was born July 5, 1940 in Monroe, Wisconsin. After graduating in 1962 from the University of Washington, Seattle, he began pursuing a masters in figurative art in 1964 at Yale University. Thanks to a scholarship, he was able to spend a number of months in Europe. His works, namely his portraits, are often associated with the Hyperrealism or Photographic Realism movements, which in response to Minimalism and Conceptual Art offer a link between painterly and photographic representation through a mechanical and detailed reproduction of reality.
The life and artistic trajectory of Chuck Close underwent a drastic change in 1988 when he suffered from spinal artery collapse and was rendered quadriplegic. However, he did not abandon his artistic activity. At first, Close painted with a brush held between his teeth. He eventually regained some movement in his arm and legs and now paints with a brush strapped to his hand. Although his handicap prevented him from painting according to his earlier meticulous manner, Close had already conceived of a refinement photorealistic method. Thanks to experimentation with different techniques and materials, Close’s result is still one of extraordinary realism.
In 1999 Close executed a series of photographic portraits using the technique of the daguerreotype, and in the course of the two successive years completed a series of photographs, which through particular use of focus and contrast between blurred and extremely detailed parts of the face immediately recalls his earlier paintings. In 2006 the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia de Madrid dedicated an exhaustive retrospective to Close’s body of work. He has been the subject of hundreds of exhibits in important museums and institutions, among which is the State Hermitage Museum, which dedicated an exhibit to his work in February of 2008.
Chuck Close died in Oceanside, New York, on August 19, 2021.