The extraordinary Chuck Close continues to create outstanding portraits, in a variety of media, despite his age (he turns 77 in July) and his being wheelchair bound since 1988.

From Long Beach to Miami Beach

Close spends much of his time in his studio in Long Beach, New York, and winters in Miami Beach. Last month he closed on a 1,316-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath condo at the Setai in Miami for $3.4 million. It’s the second condo he’s bought in the building. This apartment is on the 25th floor and has views of the beach.

The apartment was listed for $4.2 million…which means that Close got it for about $800,000 less than the asking price.

Close In the Subway

Since January 1, when the Second Avenue Subway line opened, New York City subway riders have not only been able to shorten their commute time, but can also view twelve large portraits done by Chuck Close. Close, along with Vic Muniz, Sarah Sze and Jean Shin were commissioned by the Metropolitan Transit Authority to create permanent works for the Q Line stations, which serve about 200,00 riders who travel to and from the Upper East Side. This is the first major expansion of the New York subway system in more than 50 years.

The portraits that Close has done, are of consummate New Yorkers, like Lou Reed, Phillip Glass, Alex Katz, Zhang Huan, Kara Walker, Cecily Brown, Cindy Sherman…and two self portraits.

Ten of the portraits are done in mosaic tiles, two in ceramic tiles and measure nearly nine feet high.

Because of his limited mobility, Close worked with the Canadian company, Mosaika, to help him to create the large murals with the fine details that is quintessential Close.

Used to exhibiting in museums and galleries, Close grapples with seeing his art in public spaces, “Well, I’m not a big fan of public art, to tell you the truth,” he said in an interview in Architectural Digest, “because there’s value in choosing to go look at stuff. You choose to go to a museum or a gallery. I don’t necessarily want to bump into it in the street. Even by really great artists.”

“They say more people will see my work in one week than will have seen it in all the museum and gallery shows I did, so it’s such a different magnitude.”

Many commuters take selfies in front of his Subway Murals. “It’s an odd relationship between a viewer and a piece of public art, so I had to grapple with that.” he said, “And I thought, Well, everybody’s gotta go into the subway anyhow. And if they don’t want to see mine, they can take a different entrance.”

Chuck Close at VFA

The Subway Portraits are based on Close’s earlier works, like his 2013  Self Portrait (Yellow Raincoat), for sale at VFA. It’s interesting to see how Close used his technique in the details of the watercolor print and the details in the mosaic.

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