Chuck Close (born July 5, 1940) is an American artist living with prosopagnosia (a.k.a. face blindness). In the late 60s he began painting massive portraits that helped him better recognize and remember faces. By using photographs and a grid, Close was able to map and reproduce every detail of his subject’s face with photolike accuracy. Then in the 70s, he shifted away from this approach and started making pixel like portraits that give us insight into what Close sees when looking at a face. From a distance, the faces in these paintings are visible, but become completely unrecognizable up close.
Close, John, 1972. Acrylic on canvas.
Close, Paul, 1994. Oil on canvas.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Paul is on loan from the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of the Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative, a groundbreaking partnership model geared toward increasing public access to great works of American art. We selected Paul to pair with a woven self-portrait made by the artist from our own collection. What makes the pairing interesting is that Close tries to replicate what he does in paint with thread. A connection that would be lost without the comparison.
This is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of the Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative.