Chuck Close 

Artist  ” In His Own Words “

(CBS News) Chuck Close is one of America’s greatest painters, but he has faced tremendous hurdles throughout his life and career, including suffering from face blindness and a blood clot that left him paralyzed over twenty years ago.

Chuck Close on the Art Blog :

As part of the “CBS This Morning” Note to Self series, Chuck Close wrote a note to himself at age 14. Watch the “CBS This Morning” video above and read Close’s Note to Self below:

I was in the eighth grade and was told not to even think about going to college. I couldn’t add or subtract, never could memorize the multiplication tables, was advised against taking algebra, geometry, physics or chemistry and therefore would not get into any regular college. Since I was good with my hands I was advised to aim for trade school perhaps “body and fender” work.

Never let anyone define what you are capable of by using parameters that don’t apply to you. I applied to a junior college in my hometown with “open enrollment”, got in and embarked on a career in the visual arts. Virtually everything I’ve done is influenced by my learning disabilities. I think I was driven to paint portraits to commit images of friends and family to memory. I have face blindness and once a face is flattened out I can remember it better.

“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. Every great idea I’ve ever had grew out of work itself.”


Chuck Close is noted for his highly inventive techniques used to paint the human face. He rose to fame in the late 1960s for his large-scale, photo-realist portraits.


Chuck Close - Artist

Chuck Close – Phil (2011-12) – work & detail


  • NAME: Chuck Close
  • OCCUPATION: EducatorPainter
  • BIRTH DATE: July 051940 (Age: 72)
  • EDUCATION: University of Washington School of Art, Yale University School of Art and Architecture
  • PLACE OF BIRTH: Monroe, Washington
  • FULL NAME: Charles Thomas Close
  • AKA: Chuck Close
  • ZODIAC SIGN: Cancer

Early Life

Charles Thomas Close was born July 5, 1940, in Monroe, Washington. The son of artistic parents who showed great support of their boy’s early creative interests, Close, who suffers from severe dyslexia, struggled in almost all phases of schoolwork except art. He was not terribly popular in school, and his problems were furthered by a neuromuscular condition that prevented him from playing sports.

For the first decade of his life, Close’s childhood was more or less stable. But when he was 11, tragedy struck, when his father died and his mother fell ill with breast cancer. Close’s own health took a terrible turn around this time as well, when a kidney infection landed him in bed for almost a year.

Through all of this, however, Close deepened his love for painting and art in general. At the age of 14, he saw an exhibition of Jackson Pollack paintings. Pollack’s style and flair had a great impact on Close, and, as he later recounted, it made him determined to become an artist.

Close eventually enrolled at the University of Washington, graduating in 1962 and immediately heading east to Yale to study for a Master of Fine Arts from the university’s Art and Architecture School.

Steeped heavy in the abstract world, Close radically changed his focus at Yale, opting for what would become his signature style: photo-realism. Using a process he came to describe as “knitting,” Close created large-format Polaroids of models that he then recreated on large canvases.

This early work was bold, intimate and up-front, replicating the particular details of his selected faces. In addition, his pieces blurred the distinction between painting and photography in a way that had never been done before. His techniques too were noteworthy, in particular his application of color, which helped pave the way for the development of the inkjet printer.

By the late 1960s, Close and his photo-realist pieces were entrenched in the New York City art scene. One of his best-known subjects from that period was of another young artistic talent, composer Philip Glass, whose portrait Close painted and showed in 1969. It has since gone on to become one of his most recognized pieces. He later painted choreographer Merce Cunningham and former President Bill Clinton, among others.

By the 1970s, Close’s work was shown in the world’s finest galleries, and he was widely considered one of America’s best contemporary artists.


Chuck Close

Chuck Close

“I am confident that no artist has more pleasure day in and day out from what he or she does than I do.”

“I think most paintings are a record of the decisions that the artist made. I just perhaps make them a little clearer than some people have.”

“Quadriplegics don’t envy the able bodied – we envy paraplegics. We think they’ve got an easier row to hoe. There is always someone worse

off than you.”

– Chuck Close


Thanks for watching. What one word described Chuck Close for you? My word is BRAVE.  Please leave YOUR WORD in the comment section below. See you next time on the Art Blog.


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