Chuck Close is an American artist noted for his highly inventive techniques used to paint the human face. He is best known for his large-scale, Photo-Realist portraits.
In 1988 a spinal blood clot left Close almost completely paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. A brush-holding device strapped to his wrist and forearm, however, allowed him to continue working. In the 1990s he replaced the minute detail of his earlier paintings with a grid of tiles daubed with colourful elliptical and ovoid shapes. Viewed up close, each tile was in itself an abstract painting; when seen from a distance, the tiles came together to form a dynamic deconstruction of the human face. In 1998 the Museum of Modern Art in New York City mounted a major retrospective of Close's portraits. Close has been called a Photo-Realist, a Minimalist, and an Abstract Expressionist but, as the 1998 retrospective proved, his commitment to his unique vision and his evolving techniques defy any easy categorization.
Chuck Close: I don’t think artists talk about integrity that much, it’s just sort of a given. You don’t have much to hang your hat on other than your personal integrity and what you do.
I don’t think there are charlatans out there. If you want to be a charlatan, if you want to pull the wool over the eyes of the public, there’s a lot better ways to do it, and a lot better money to be made than by trying to do it through art. Look at the Bernie Madoffs and the other people in the world, who are real cheats, who are really fooling people and lying to them.
This is not a profession that is particularly well suited for a sham; and it’s not a game of three-card Monte. There’s magic to it, but you’re not trying to fool the public.
I think one can question what certain artists have done, whether or not it was a good idea, or a bad idea, or you may wonder if they shouldn’t just get their head examined. But I take them seriously.
And anybody who calls themselves an artist, then what they make is art as far as I am concerned. The only thing I can decide is if it’s relevant to me and if it has meaning to me and if I find value in it. But I’m not going to question the integrity of the person who’s putting it out.
Recorded on: February 5, 2009