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Chuck Close
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Monroe, Washington
Chuck Close’s prominence and popularity are due mostly to his photographs and the giant portraits he has painted since the 1960s. Based on photographs, the portraits are monumental close-ups of heads (his family and friends) produced under various limitations (some self-imposed creative techniques, some health-related, see PERSONAL HISTORY). In a 1997 interview, Close told New York Times reporter, Michael Kimmelman, “My (early) learning disabilities also affected what I did as an artist. I could never remember faces, and I’m sure I was driven toward portraits because of the need to scan, study and commit to memory the faces of people who matter to me. The other thing is that I’ve always been incredibly indecisive and overwhelmed by problems, and I’ve learned that breaking them down helps, which is exactly how I paint a portrait: I break it down into bite-size pieces, into lots of little manageable decisions... What moves me about Seurat’s art is the incremental, nuanced, part-to-whole way his paintings are built out of elegant little dots, though I feel even more of a kinship with Roman mosaics because the mosaics are made out of big, clunky chunks, and I especially like the idea that something can be made out of something else so different and unlikely. In Roman mosaics, an eyeball is made from the exact same chunk of stone as the background, and this brings up the concept of all-overness and Jackson Pollock. It’s what I aim for in my own work, an all-overness that’s different from what most portraitists do by putting all of their attention into the eyes, nose and mouth.” (“At the Met with Chuck Close,” The New York Times, July 25, 1997, p. B22.) RESIDENCE: New York City FAMILY: wife, Leslie; two daughters, Maggie and Georgia PERSONAL HISTORY: In 1988 a spinal artery in Close's body suddenly collapsed. All the muscles, from his shoulders down, were affected to some degree, forcing him to use a wheelchair. He had to relearn to paint, with brushes strapped to his hands. He viewed this setback as another potentially creative limitation. A book documenting the artist’s personal and professional experiences (Chuck Close Life and Work: 1988-1995, Thames & Hudson) was scheduled for a December 1996 release. EDUCATION: 1958-1960 attended Everett Community College, Washington state 1961 attended Yale Summer School of Music and Art 1963 BFA, 1964 MFA, Yale University (in class with Richard Serra, Nancy Graves, Janet Fish, Rackstraw Downes and Brice Marden) 1964-1965 Akademie der Bildenden Kunste, Vienna (see AWARDS) ACADEMIC POSITIONS: 1965-1967 University of Massachusetts 1967-1971 School of Visual Arts, New York City 1970-1973 New York University 1970 University of Washington 1971-1972 Yale University Summer School AWARDS include: 1964-1965 Fulbright Grant to Vienna, Austria 1973 National Endowment for the Arts Grant in Painting ONE PERSON EXHIBITIONS include: 1990-1998 -The first Chuck Close Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art, New York (February-May 1998) -Staatlich Kunstalle, Baden-Baden, Germany - retrospective (traveled) -Pace Wildenstein Los Angeles (January-March 1997) -PaceWildensteinMacGill, New York -Museum of Modern Art, New York -The Pace Gallery, New York (also in the 1970’s and 1980’s) 1980-1989 -Walker Art Center - major retrospective (traveled) -California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside -University Art Museum, Berkeley, California -Pace/McGill Gallery, New York -Richard Gray Gallery (traveled) -Spokane Center of Art, Cheney, Washington (traveled) -Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston -Fuji Television Gallery, Tokyo, Japan -Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut -Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco 1970-1979 -Los Angeles County Museum of Art -Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago -Akron Art Institute -Bykert Gallery, New York -Minneapolis Institute of Arts -Phoenix Art Museum -Portland Center for Visual Arts -San Francisco Museum of Modern Art -Texas Gallery, Houston -Kunstaum, Munich, West Germany -Baltimore Museum of Art 1960-1969 -Art Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS include: 1990-1997 -Thirty-Five Years at Crown Point Press: Making Prints, Doing Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (June-September, 1997), FAMSF (October 1997-January 1998) -Project Painting, Basilico Fine Arts, New York (September-October 1997) -Systemic, Karen McCready Contemporary Art, Crown Point Press (Chelsea), New York (June-August 1997) -IN-FORM, Bravin Post Lee Gallery, New York (June-July 1997) -Rotating Exhibition, Jim Kempner Fine Art, New York (1997) -Photorealism’s Greatest Hits, Louis K. Meisel Gallery (March-April 1997) -Screen, Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York -Installing the Lens and Other Thorny Jobs, Pace Gallery, New York -Group Show, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York -Exhibition of Works by New Members, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York -Large Scale Works on Paper, John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco -Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York -Artist’s Choice/Chuck Close Head-On/The Modern Portrait, Museum of Modern Art, New York-Contemporary Woodblock Prints from Crown Point Press, The Leif E. Johnson Memorial Exhibition, Edison Community College, Fort Myers, Florida -Prints of the Eighties, Pratt Institute, New York (traveled) -Prints Made at Crown Point Press, Tate Gallery, London -Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh 1980-1989 -Printed Art: A View of Two Decades, Museum of Modern Art, New York -Self Portraits: An Exhibition of Art on View at the Seagram Building, New York -Ten American Artists from Pace, Wildenstein and Co., London -The Figurative Tradition and the Whitney Museum of American Art: Paintings and Sculpture from the Permanent Collection, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York -The Morton G. Neumann Family Collection, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. -Contemporary American Realism Since 1960, Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia -Drawings from Georgia Collections: 19th and 20th Century, High Museum of Art, Atlanta -Seven Photorealists from New York Collections, Solomon Guyggenheim Museum, New York -20 Artists: Yale School of Art 1950-1970, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven -American Prints: Process and Proof, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York -Instant Photography, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands -Photographer as Printmaker: 140 Years of Photographic Printmaking, organized by The Arts Council of Great Britain (traveled) -Great Big Drawings, Hayden Gallery, M.I.T., Cambridge, Massachusetts -Surveying the Seventies, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York -Making Paper, American Craft Museum, New York -Photo-Realism dix ans apres, Galerie Isy Brachot, Paris -Drawings 1974-1984, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. -The First Show: Painting and Sculpture Eight Collections, 1940-1980, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles -American Realism: The Precise Image, Isetan Museum of Art, Tokyo (traveled) -Self-Portrait: The Photographer’s Persona, Museum of Modern Art, New York -Big and Small, Israel Museum, Jerusalem -Philadelphia Collects Art Since 1940, Philadelphia Museum of Art -70’s into 80’s, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston -Multiple Realities, Crown Point Press 1970-1979 -22 Realists, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York -Eight New York Painters, University Art Museum, Berkeley, California -Hyperrealistes Americains, Galerie des Quatre Mouvementes, Paris -Aachen International, Edinburgh Festival, Royal Scottish Academy -American Art: Third-Quarter Century, Seattle Art Museum -American Drawings, 1963-1973, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York -Art Conceptuel et Hyperrealiste, Ludwig Collection, Musee d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Photorealism: The Ludwig Collection, Serpentine Gallery, London -ARS ‘74, Atheneum, Fine Arts Academy of Finland, Helsinki -11th Tokyo Biennale, Japan -34th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Painting, Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C. -Drawing Now, Museum of Modern Art, New York -Seventy-second American Exhibition, Art Institute of Chicago -Paris- New York, Musee Nationale d’art Moderne, Centre George Pompidou, Paris -American Painting of the 1970’s, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York -Eight Artists, Philadelphia Museum of Art -American Portraiture Drawings, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.