“Chuck Close says art saved his life twice.”
From an excellent interview, “At school, he was always in the slowest stream and could only pass tests by revising all night in the bath with a spotlight trained on the book, reading passages out loud.
Every report card said essentially the same thing: ‘Charles is absent-mindedly looking out of the window the whole time,'” he recalls. “What I was doing was cutting out the visual stimulation so I could listen better to what the teacher was saying.
Today it’s the same. I don’t have any short-term memory at all.”
Close’s dad seemed to be wonderful at nursing the spark that would some day keep him alive: “Although his parents were poor, they bought him a set of oils and sent him to art lessons every Saturday, in a house that may have been a brothel by night. His dad made him toys, magic tricks and puppets, and he became the class entertainer to compensate for his lack of academic and sporting skills.
For those of you who know Close’s life history – which includes having a spinal stroke that paralyzed him from the neck down (he powered back through art therapy though still uses a wheelchair) – his story is one of incredible grit and follow-through despite personal challenges. It’s amazing that when asked how he thought his painting may have evolved over the years, he answered, “I think the work became more celebratory and brighter…”