In The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Chuck Close, in the New York Times’ Magazine,  Wil S. Hylton ponders the many recent mysterious and radical changes in artist Chuck Close’s life and work. His distinctive style of portraiture has taken a new direction; he’s changed studios, living space and partner, and sees few of his old friends. The piece is a must-read for the MANY illuminating and original questions and viewpoints it presents about making art in 2016, aging, the effects of disability, creative blocks, the need for personal change.

Paul Simon Stranger to Stranger cover by Chuck Close

Of particular interest to us was the advice Close gave his friend Paul Simon, who recently announced that he’s going to retire having just released his last album “Stranger to Stranger” (whose cover is taken from Close’s portrait of Simon). Said Close:

I called him up, and I said, “Artists don’t retire,” ….I think I talked him out of it.

I said: ‘Don’t deny yourself this late stage, because the late stage can be very interesting. You know everybody hated late de Kooning, but it turned out to be great stuff. Late Picasso, nobody liked it, and it turned out to be great.’ ”

Close reminded Simon that Matisse was unable to continue painting late in life. “Had Matisse not done the cutouts, we would not know who he was,”

Close said. “Paul said, ‘I don’t have any ideas.

 ‘Well, of course you don’t have any ideas. Sitting around waiting for an idea is the worst thing you can do. All ideas come out of the work itself.’ 

chuck-close at work

We really believe:

Artists don’t retire.


All ideas come out the work itself.

We’re mulling Close’s decision to make radical changes that impact, baffle and at times hurt people who love him…

…It is every person’s choice to determine the path they need to take to grow, to break their own mold…



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