Chuck Close: Face Book

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Chuck Close: Face Book

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I remember the first time I discovered Chuck Close. I was “old” — 18? — and spent 20 minutes that morning at MOMA walking away from and then walking toward his work. Over and over again, I kept thinking: is that really his face? But it’s just a bunch of dots? Why don’t his eyes match the rest of his face? How does Close do it?

The answer to that question is far more interesting than I realized at the time. And, fortunately, a group of much younger and wiser children had an opportunity to ask the artist even better questions; that inspired the creation of Chuck Close: Face Book, a wonderful real-life art story for children ages 8 to 12. The book was conceived at a studio visit/interview between Close and a class of Brooklyn fifth-graders, who dug deep to find out about the artist’s personal and professional life. The result is a tribute to Close’s work. He generously explains his technique of using everything from oils and acrylics to graphite, woodcuts, photographs and collaging paper pulp to create his haunting self-portraits.

But the book also explores a side of Close that doesn’t garner as much publicity. The prolific artist has experienced many academic and physical challenges, including severe dyslexia, prosopagnosia (face blindness), and the collapse of a spinal artery that left him paralyzed. Despite these obstacles, Close has become wildly successful. The takeaway message for your children is overwhelmingly positive: if they pursue their dreams, work hard, and aren’t afraid to take risks, even with disabilities, they can reach their loftiest goal.

Is there any reason this book is not made for children ages 8 to 108?

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