Chuck Close Biography

Chuck Close is an American artist much acclaimed as a photorealistic painter. This biography of Chuck Close provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline

Quick Facts

Birthday: July 5, 1940

Nationality: American

Famous: Quotes By Chuck Close Artists

Age: 79 Years, 79 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Cancer

Also Known As: Charles Thomas , Charles Thomas Close

Born in: Monroe

Famous as: Painter


Spouse/Ex-: Leslie Rose, Sienna Shields

father: Leslie Durward Close

mother: Mildred Wagner Close

More Facts

education: University of Washington, 1964 - Yale University, Yale School of Art

awards: World Press Photo Award for Portraits

Continue Reading Below

Chuck Close is an American painter who rose to fame as a photorealist with his large-scale, intricate portraits of the human face. He is a highly creative person known for his extraordinary artistic abilities and inventive techniques which have made him one of the most innovative artists of the contemporary times. A major figure of the painting movement of Photorealism which emerged during the 1970s, he is credited to have made the genre of photorealism an artistic medium in its own right. By effortlessly blurring the distinction between photography and painting, he has created several magnificent works of art which are much sought after by museums and collectors. Born as the son of artistically inclined parents, he too developed an early interest in the arts. He suffered from severe dyslexia as a child and sought solace in art and soon realized that he was blessed with a high degree of creativity and artistic abilities. He studied at Academy of Fine Arts Vienna before embarking on his career and eventually turned his attention towards photorealism. Throughout his life he has been plagued by ill health and suffers from several medical conditions. However, his illnesses have never been able to thwart his ambitions as a painter and he continues to be one of the most influential contemporary artists

Childhood & Early Life
  • Chuck Close returned to the US after completing his studies and took up the position of an art teacher at the University of Massachusetts. He moved to New York City in 1967.
  • He had been known for his skillful brushwork as a graduate student at Yale University where he displayed an interest in abstract expressionism. Gradually he began to divert from his old style and was drawn towards “photorealist” painting, a painting style resembling photography in its close attention to detail.
  • By the late 1960s he had started to gain in prominence and his work was displayed in important New York galleries and at the Whitney Museum of American Art. With time he became more popular and was exhibiting in prestigious international exhibitions in the early 1970s.
  • Over the 1970s, he mastered the art of creating the glossy, mirror-like "look" of the photograph, and after achieving this ideal he turned his attention to portraiture. He created larger than life works, starting with a gridded photograph.
  • He became especially known for his bold and intricate portraits of the human face in spite of suffering from prosopagnosia—also known as face blindness—a condition which interferes with his ability to recognize human faces.
  • Over his illustrious career he has created several wall-size tapestry portraits in which each image is composed of thousands of combinations of woven colored thread. Some of the subjects he has depicted on his tapestries include Barack Obama, Lou Reed, Kate Moss, Lucas Samaras, and Philip Glass.
  • He has held several solo exhibitions in his career, and has also participated in almost 800 group exhibitions, including documentas V (1972) and VI (1977), the Venice Biennale (1993, 1995, 2003), and the Carnegie International (1995). His most recent retrospective—‘Chuck Close Paintings: 1968/2006’—was held in 2007.
Awards & Achievements
  • He was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate Academician in 1990, and became a full Academician in 1992.
  • He received the National Medal of Arts from President Clinton in 2000. He is also the recipient of the New York State Governor's Art Award.
  • In 2010, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • His first marriage was to Leslie Rose with whom he has two daughters. The couple divorced in 2011.
  • Chuck Close is presently married to artist Sienna Shields.
  • In 1988, he suffered a seizure which left him paralyzed from the neck down. He spent months in rehab strengthening his muscles with physical therapy and learned to use a wheelchair. Ever the resilient soul, he returned to painting and re-established himself as one of America’s favorite artists.
Net Worth
  • Chuck Close has an estimated net worth of $25 million.
  • Chuck Close was one of the volunteers in President Barack Obama's Turnaround Arts initiative, in which he mentored 34 students in the sixth through eighth grades at Roosevelt School in Bridgeport, Connecticut

See the events in life of Chuck Close in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Chuck Close Biography
- Editors,
Chuck Close

People Also Viewed

Matthew Gray Gubler
Tom Franco
Leslie Stefanson
Gary Burghoff

Susan Mikula
Martin Mull
Robert Crumb
Thomas McDonell