Chuck Close’s work is most often associated with Photorealism, a stylistic painting movement developed in the mid-1960s. Photorealists strove for technically precise visual reality, and images often had their point of reference in photography (the reproduced image) rather than in nature. In a career-long series of large-scale portraits of friends and of himself, Close’s method has been to begin with a photographic print that he enlarges and overlays with a grid. He then systematically transposes each gridded block directly onto the canvas or paper, meticulously refining and finishing the image. The result is a technically masterful and ironically monumental portrait.
Since his first painting in 1968, Close has worked in a variety of styles and techniques. His first work as a printmaker was in 1972, and he has continued to create editions to this day. Heralded for his consistently complex and labor-intensive approach to printmaking, Close’s development in this medium has been unusually innovative. Working in all graphic media, he has created his portraits using everything from precise etched lines and dots to his own lithographed fingerprints to paper pulp as he translates the image from printing plate to paper.