He is perhaps best known as a portrait painter but critics have found it difficult to categorize him much more accurately beyond that. The Encyclopaedia Britannica cites his “large-scale Photo-Realist” portraits as his most famous achievement while the Oxford Dictionary of Art labels his early work as “Abstract Expressionist” and his later work as “Superrealism”. Many commentators (Sultan, 2003) have regarded his work in the medium of print to be even more significant than his paintings and it is certainly true that photography and print media have influenced his painting, as well as being major works of art in their own right.
Throughout his life Chuck close has given interviews and collaborated on many books and television programmes (see for example Finch, 2007) which gives critics a good insight into his life and thought. His childhood was in some ways difficult, because of illness in the family and his own learning difficulties. Nowadays he would have no doubt been diagnosed with dyslexia and coached out of his rather individual way of seeing things, but as it was, he used his disability with words to focus on what he was good at, namely art. He has an exceptional awareness of his own artistic development and an uncanny talent for finding new techniques.
While still a student Close was fascinated by prints and photography, citing Jasper Johns as an early influence (Sultan 10). He was a student in the 1960s, and experienced the blossoming of Pop Art first hand. The work of Johns and Warhol opened up a whole new field of exploration where the boundaries between collage and paint, between commercial silk screen printing and traditional fine art painting seemed to be merged. Multiple repetitions of the same subject were made in different colors and on a huge scale, highlighting these artists’ ability to frame even very ordinary items in unusual ways and change our perception of these items. Images such as the cans of soup and the Marylin