Seeing JFK in Obama

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

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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