I first learned who Chuck Close was when he was on The Colbert Report back in August--that night I ordered both Chuck Close: Work and Chuck Close: Life. Now three months later I finally got time to read the book, and I am very pleased I ordered it. Not knowing anything about Chuck or the art world in general, it was incredibly fascinating to have an inside look at other artists and how the art world operated(both from Chuck's perspective as well as the author's, who was an 'art world insider').
As another reviewer as said, the author is a friend of Chuck's and I do agree that he is at times boasting about Chuck's ability, but I don't think this necessarily takes anything away from the book. And probably, had the author not been a good friend of Chuck's, the book wouldn't contain the immense amount of personal information that it does, which adds a lot to understanding Chuck.
There was also a comment about the images not being of the highest quality; this is true, but Chuck Close: Life is meant to be a companion to Chuck Close: Work; the works shown in 'Life' are meant simply to show the change in Chuck's technique over the years. If one is looking to gawk over his work for long periods of time and intently study the images, probably 'Work' is where you should look. Sadly, due to business and laziness, I still haven't removed the shrink wrap from Chuck Close: Work, so I can't comment on the quality of the images in that book. One thing that I definitely noticed right away is that 'Life' is a very sturdy book--nice binding and big thick pages (no doubt Chuck saw to it that the book would hold up)--and probably the lack of image quality comes from the absorbency of the paper and it's cream color.
I think the only negative comment I'd leave about Chuck Close: Life is that the author really isn't a very good writer. It almost became a game to spot words that the author seemed to have learned while writing different sections of the book, and he then decided to use that word as often as possible: 'tour de force' is used to describe like the first half dozen works Chuck creates after Big Nude; 'aplomb' is overused in the span of three or four pages to describe Chuck and his wife (and maybe other people--again, see: overused); and the case is the same with 'au courant' at the end of the book (because other people only need to be up to date on the art world once Chuck has become famous?).
Nevertheless, still 5 stars.
UPDATE: I was just reading through the reviews I'd written, and I should really take back what I said about the author being a bad writer. He is a fine writer, he just likes to use fancy, and perhaps somewhat-unnecessary, language sometimes.
Among the most respected American artists of his generation, a member in good standing of the New York City cultural elite, honored by exhibitions throughout the world, recipient of many awards for his service to Art and to Humanity, Chuck Close has had it all....except his fair share of perceptual, neurological and immunological characteristics. This fine biography, at the request, and with the full participation, of it's subject, and cooperation of his family, friends, fellow-members of the art world, and consumers of his product, captures the human drama of a man imbued with a lust for achievement who surmounted minor as well as devastating barriers, to become an icon of personal survival in an often nightmarish experiential world. While there was the major shock of becoming a "partial paraplegic" in his late forties, it was daily coping with extraordinary incursions on independent living that has sunk many others into impenetrable despair, that required the courage and commitment that he possessed to a superior degree than most, in order for him to continue his professional successes and add to them other significant contributions. Without bathos the author retails the early challenges of dyslexia and neurological weaknesses as well as the later critical illnesses and the manner in which he coped and surmounted the difficulties. His family relationships are detailed with some suggestive hypotheses as to their impact on him without the tedious and tendentious speculation that so mars many other contemporary biographies. His mother and his wife were clearly dominant in their very different ways in influencing his personal adjustments, as were a number of named teachers, colleagues, and previous artists in his professional life. The author is quite good at suggesting the travails that his wife endured due to his illness, but only she can know the cost to her of the wracking anxieties and emotional stress that her role imposed upon her. The author, a long time friend, aptly sketches the technical nature of his artistic growth but defers here to the thorough treatment of Close's work in his earlier book devoted to that theme. Overall, a biography that should be of considerable interest to the general reader to whom it is addressed as well as to those with greater involvement in the art world who will find valuable insight into one of their own.
I ordered this book after seeing an interview with the artist and author on PBS Newshour. The book provides insight into the artist and the art world. It is a declaration of the power of the arts in our school system. Mr. Close's statement, "Yale or jail", brings home the point that higher education should be available to all.
I was interested in how Chuck Close developed his work and the struggles in finding his voice while keeping his beliefs in tact. This book provides inspiration and courage to anyone who has the vision to succeed.
Although I have not finished this book I am enjoying it thoroughly. Th author is a super stoy teller and what a story to tell. Chuck Close is not only one of the greatest artists in the United States he is a incredible person. His struggle with disabilities as a young person and then later his spinal stroke which left him wheel chair bound. He never gave up and went on to paint better than ever. His life is magical and so is his work. I was lucky enough to see a number of his work at San Francisco MOMA part of the Fisher Collection and it was fantastic. I had only seen photographs and the originals were breathtaking. The art world is so fortunate that Chuck Close never gave up the fight. Any one who is intrested in his work should own and read this book.
A very well written biography chronicling the life of one of the most interesting artists of our time. As an artist I was very moved to see how Chuck Close, despite suffering a serious disability was able to continue creating amazing works of art.
I have admired Chuck Close since the first time I saw "Big Self-Portrait" back in the 1990s, while studying Art History in college. Through this book we learn of the incredible life lead by one of the premier artists of our generation. Not only to have made it through extremely hard times and continue to defy odds, he has created some of his best work in the process. It is an essential read on a most admirable man. This book is not only a biography but a snapshot into one of the greatest artists of our time. Highly recommended for all lovers of art!
Oh what can I say? I like chuck Close's work, but it is by far not my favorite. However i do highly respect Chuck's approach to the work ethic. Many quotes by him show that he is more like a blue collar working man than a hoity toity artist... He is a humble and serious artist. So to me, this book is a wonderful insight into his wisdom. It also gives very revealing insight into all the things that have shaped his life as an artist which helps to understand what he does, and why he does it. Thank you Chuck Close for all the inspiration you have provided me!!
If you're a fan of Chuck Close and his portraits, you'll love this inside look on his career from his start to where it is now. It details how he paints his nine foot portraits using his own grid method which as an artist myself, I found interesting. Also if you or anyone you know is a quadrapalegic, Chuck's determination in overcoming and not giving up and continuing with such a devestating handicap after his mid-life "event" as he calls it will inspire you.
If you've attended my Loosen Up Workshops you've heard me go on about my modern day painter/hero, Chuck Close. The latest book, Chuck Close: Life by Christopher Finch is an astonishing and inspirational book about his detailed life - how a major, successful, contemporary painter is upended by the traumatic collapse of his spine, leaving him a quadriplegic in seconds.
For most of us, our career would have been finished. But not Close. He continued to paint humongous-sized portraits of his close friends and family. His style and technique was before and still is today to paint "photo realism" (he hated the term) by painting small pixel-type squares of abstract color and designs only inches from his nose. But when you stand back twenty feet, the 10 foot by 15 foot canvas appears exactly like his large format Polaroid® photos that he paints from.
Throughout the book there are so many amazing facts that will make you stop for awhile and just reflect about the events you've just read... things like his name "Close." He can only see a few inches away and he has a medical condition that causes him to be unable to recognize faces. Unbelievable. And yet, he only and has always painted close to the canvas - only portraits - only faces from photographs. Today, he can move only just his hands with an attached brush. The canvas moves up and down - he does not move. And, he is painting his best work ever and continues his exhibitions in museums worldwide. Wow!
P.S. As an aside, interestingly while Chuck Close was going thru rehabilitation at the New Your City Rusk Institute, in the next room and at the same time was a young industrial designer (me) developing the first custom-contoured wheelchair seat for quadriplegics. Gee, I wish I knew how I could meet and talk with him today!
So, if you are interested in what kind of a commitment it takes to be an heroic and risk-taking artist, the true facts are in this favorite artist book of mine.