Chuck Close
Artist
01:33

Seeing JFK in Obama

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The contemporary artist draws comparisons between Kennedy and Obama

Chuck Close

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.

Transcript

Chuck Close: I have to say, having been alive and a young artist when Kennedy was president, there was a change in the national mood that may happen with Obama as well. There was real pride of place that came when **** would play in the White House and people loved Jackie’s wardrobe, and the elegance; and the intellectual activities were appreciated.

I have more faith that something will happen in the Obama Administration.

[George W.] Bush was also a product of Prep Schools and an Ivy League education, and his “Aw shucks, I’m just a shit-kicker from Texas” played well. But he had every advantage in the world, silver spoon; a father a President; grandfather very powerful. If that’s not elitism, then I don’t know what is.

Recorded on: February 5, 2009


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