About This Artwork

Chuck Close
American, born 1940

Alex, 1991

Oil on canvas
254 x 213.4 cm (100 x 84 in.)

William H. Bartels and Max V. Kohnstamm prize funds; through prior beqests of Katharine Kuh and Marguerita S. Ritman; gift of Lannan Foundation, 1997.165

Since the late 1960s, the pioneering Realist artist Chuck Close has used the human face, tightly framed, as the basis for his art. In 1987 the artist made 24-x-20-inch Polaroid portraits of several fellow artists, which he then turned into studies for oil paintings. Two years later, he suffered a collapsed spinal artery, which severely limited his mobility and confined him to a wheelchair. With great determination, Close regained his former control of his medium, as this monumental portrait of the artist Alex Katz demonstrates. Like much of his recent work, it is less an exact likeness than an exploration of process. Incremental blips of paint—circles, dots, and dashes—are laid into a grid corresponding to the original photographic study.

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