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Chuck Close, American, born 1940

Made in United States, North and Central America


Oil on canvas

8 feet 6 inches × 7 feet (259.1 × 213.4 cm)

© Chuck Close. Courtesy Pace Wildenstein, New York

Curatorial Department:
Contemporary Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with funds (by exchange) from the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Cummins Catherwood, with the Edith H. Bell Fund, and with funds contributed by the Committee on Twentieth-Century Art, 1994

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This portrait of American artist Paul Cadmus (1904–1999) derives from a Polaroid photograph that Close charted with a grid pattern and transposed, unit by unit, onto a large canvas. In creating a complex map of the face, the regularity of the grid becomes a vehicle for sumptuous, inventive painting that subtly balances representation with abstraction.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art Handbook (2014 Edition)

    This full-face portrait of American artist Paul Cadmus is representative of the unique painting method Chuck Close has employed since the 1960s. Working from black-and-white Polaroid photographs that he takes himself, Close covers them with a grid pattern and transposes the images onto monumental canvases. His iconic paintings coalesce into grand, cohesive portraits only when viewed from afar; at close range they remain abstract arrangements of colors and shapes. By highlighting the tension between paint’s materiality and its power of illusionistic description, Closes’s portraits challenge the viewer’s perception. Ann Temkin and Adelina Vlas, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2014, p. 411.