5 Reasons to love: Chuck Close

Associated with the Photo-Realist or Super-Realist movement of the 60s and 70s, American artist Chuck Close initially became known for the minutely detailed portrait heads he painted on a monumental scale. These works magnify every pore and imperfection to unexpected and unnatural proportions. If you want to be ‘wow-ed’ by contemporary art, check out Chuck.

5. He is ridiculously good.

Close’s talent is faultless. As a Photorealist, he makes life-like images on an epic scale. He defies the person that looks at Modern Art and says, “my 5 year old could do that”. No, he most definitely could not.

4. He’s one tough cookie.

A catastrophic spinal artery collapse in 1988 left Close severely paralysed, yet he still produces unbelievable, large-scale images… from a wheelchair. He calls the day of his accident ‘the Event’. However – it did not hinder his artistic aims. Close has continued to paint with a brush strapped onto his wrist with tape, creating large portraits in low-resolution grid squares. Viewed from afar, these squares appear as a single, unified image which attempt photo-reality, albeit in pixelated form.

3. He ain’t just a one tricky pony.

As well as paint, Close has dabbled in creating portraits using portraiture ink, graphite, pastel, watercolor, conté crayon, finger painting, stamp-pad ink on paper, Mezzotint, etching, woodcuts, linocuts, silkscreens, handmade paper collage, Polaroid photographs, Daguerreotypes, and Jacquard tapestries. Wowza.

2. He turns disadvantages into advantages.

He suffers from Prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness, in which he is unable to recognise faces. By painting portraits, Close is better able to recognise and remember faces. He has managed to make a (multi-million dollar) living out a unique disability. Kudos, Chuck!

1. His work will trip. You. Out.

From a distance, it looks like a photograph. Yet when you get up close, you notice hundreds of colourful blobs. They kind of look like cells, or perhaps even medicinal capsules, which could be an according nod to his life-altering illness. The Big Self Portrait (1968) is so finely done that even a full page reproduction in an art book is still indistinguishable from a regular photograph. This guy got skillz.