Up-Close with Chuck Close

The Photo-realistic Portraiture of Chuck Close

Chuck Close is a photo-realistic painter who emerged in the 70’s as a dominant force of portraiture. This was during the late 60’s fascination in achieving the photo-realistic quality that cameras could capture. Upon achieving this, Close went on to explore different forms of portraiture and collage that focused more on an intuitive process that expressed a wider ranger of artistic concepts and self identity.

Below is a quick look at the evolution of Chuck’s work over the decades.

Big Self Portrait. 1967. © Chuck Close
Big Self Portrait. 1967. © Chuck Close

In the late 60’s, he focused predominantly on desaturated paintings, mostly done with acrylic on canvas. His black and white images forced people to focus on detail and depth.

Frank. 1969. © Chuck Close
Frank. 1969. © Chuck Close
Keith. 1970. © Chuck Close
Keith. 1970. © Chuck Close

The 70’s saw a sudden burst of colour in his work. He began capturing photo-realistic changes in skin tones, accurately depicting highlights and blemishes under hard lighting.

Susan. 1971. © Chuck Close
Susan. 1971. © Chuck Close
Leslie. 1973. © Chuck Close
Leslie. 1973. © Chuck Close

“Photography is the easiest medium with which to be merely competent. Almost anybody can be competent. It’s the hardest medium in which to have some sort of personal vision and to have a signature style”

Mark. 1979. © Chuck Close
Mark. 1979. © Chuck Close

“I’m pre-pixel, they got it from me”

Jud. 1982. © Chuck Close
Jud. 1982. © Chuck Close
Lucas. 1987. © Chuck Close
Lucas. 1987. © Chuck Close

Close believes that his conceptual intentions are timeless, whereas his tools or materials are infinitely interchangeable. This interchanging method keeps his work fresh and contemporary.

Arne. 1999. © Chuck Close
Arne. 1999. © Chuck Close
President Bill Clinton. 2006. © Chuck Close
President Bill Clinton. 2006. © Chuck Close
Zhang Huan II. 2008. © Chuck Close
Zhang Huan II. 2008. © Chuck Close

“A face is a road map of someone’s life. Without any need to amplify that or draw attention to it, there’s a great deal that’s communicated about who this person is and what their life experiences have been.”