Artist Chuck Close, a pioneer of the postmodern and contemporary portraitist, has passed away at the age of 81. A defining voice in the landscape of New York’s post-war art scene, the artist leaves behind a legacy of work that mixed together an insightful use of photorealist technique and subtle commentary on its construction to create an influential body of work.
Born in Monroe, Washington in 1940, Close would start making art an early age, exploring various mediums and eventually going on to study at the University of Washington, where he graduated with high honors, ultimately completing an MFA at Yale. Branching out from the shadow of the abstract expressionists, he would begin exploring photography and its correlative relationship to painting as captured images, using photos as a space to explore gesture and mark, while realizing impressively life-like, hyperreal images.
In his later years, a collapsed spinal artery would relegate Close to a wheelchair with limited motor skills, but he continued to paint using a brush strapped to his wrist, resulting in a series of works that transformed his attentive approach to the canvas into a more abstract set of images, turning sitters into kaleidoscopic representations of themselves. He is survived by his daughters, Georgia and Maggie, and four grandchildren.
Chuck Close, Artist of Outsized Reality, Dies at 81 [NYT]