From Publishers Weekly
Conceived as a companion to the 2007 collection of images, Chuck Close: Work, Finch presents in this volume a more thorough traditional biography. Though an honored and prolific artist today, Close's road to success hasn't been glamorous. Plagued by learning disabilities and health problems throughout his youth, Close was encouraged to express his thoughts and feelings creatively and learned to faithfully trust the artistic process. He "showed a marked ability to depend on himself" and was able to create visual solutions to logical problems. These skills aided him greatly in receiving a Master's Degree from Yale and gaining recognition in the 1970s for his large scale photo realistic portraits (a term the artist dislikes) of friends and family. In 1988, following several occurrences of chest pain as well as a severe respiratory infection, Close suffered what he calls "The Event," a spinal stroke, which caused temporary quadriplegia. Through incorporating art into his physical therapy, he was able to regain the ability to paint. Close says art saved his life, but the book illustrates well his tenacity and persistence to overcome obstacles, with art functioning more as a companion than a savior. Photos.
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*Starred Review* In Chuck Close: Work (2008), arts journalist and painter Finch, who has known the artist for four decades, focuses on Close’s paradigm-altering approaches to portraiture. In his second cornerstone volume, he tells the staggering story of Close’s life with the same meticulous attention to detail with which Close paints faces. Born in 1940 in Washington State, Close was burdened with dyslexia, neuromuscular problems, and, curiously enough, prosopagnosia, a perceptual disorder that interfered with his ability to recognize faces. From the start, Close, determined and fearless, knew that it was all about “maximizing his skills and minimizing his deficits.” Finch creates a fast-flowing, richly textured narrative covering every phase of Close’s evolution, following him to Yale as a proto-hippie abstract painter and to 1960s downtown New York, where Close and his wife, Leslie, were art pioneers. There Close realized that the human face was his great subject and that his approach would involve “brutal detail” and “monumental scale.” From the challenges of balancing family life and art to his prodigious discipline, creativity, and success to the cruel spinal stroke that left Close paralyzed from the neck down to his phenomenal return to painting from his wheelchair, this is an astounding and inspiring story of an artist of uncommon powers. --Donna Seaman