Chuck Close - Emma

Chuck Close is one of the world's leading modern artists. His art focuses on portraits of himself and his family and friends, often produced at a very large scale. Close typically begins with a photograph of a face, creating a painting or print through a complex grid-based reconstruction of the image that he accomplishes by hand through one of many techniques that are unique to Close's work. His paintings are even more impressive, given that Close had to relearn how to use his hands following a 1988 spinal infection that left him a quadriplegic.

Close was born in Monroe, Washington in 1940. He graduated from the University of Washington (BFA, art) in 1962 and from Yale (MFA, art) in 1964. He was the 1997 UW Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus - the highest university honor for one of its graduates. Close's work is included in the collections of numerous museums, including the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Guggenheim Museum (New York), and the Tate Gallery (London). The New York Museum of Modern Art held a special exhibit of Close's paintings and prints in 1998; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York held an exhibit on Close's prints in 2004.

We have two examples of Chuck Close's prints in the Gates Commons of the Allen Center. Emma is a remarkable 113-color Japanese-style woodcut that Close produced in collaboration with Japanese woodcut artist Yasu Shibata. Production of the Emma print took over eighteen months to complete. Also in the Gates commons is an etching of Close's daughter, Georgia, made completely from impressions of Close's fingerprint. Close's prints and printmaking techniques are described in the book Chuck Close: Process and Collaboration.

Images © Pace Editions, Inc., New York

Georgia Fingerprint


New York Museum of Modern Art

Chuck Close article in UW Alumni Magazine.

Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

YouTube time lapse movie of the making of a Chuck Close print


Chuck Close: A Retrospective, by Chuck Close, Robert Storr (Editor), Kirk Varnedoe, and Deborah Wye. Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2002.

Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration, by Terrie Sultan. Princeton University Press, 2003.

The Portraits Speak: Chuck Close in Conversation with 27 of his Subjects, by Chuck Close, Dave Hickey, Joanne Kesten, and Maggie Fogel. Art Resource Transfer (ART) Press, 1998.


Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress, by Marion Cajori. Emmy nominated PBS documentary on Chuck Close, his family, friends, and art.

Art in the Allen Center