Chuck Close: Face Book
Chuck Close: Face Book
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Chuck Close
ISBN 9781419701634
Abrams, 2012.
Winner, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction
4 ½ stars
Keywords: art biography chuck-close chuck-face-book overcoming-difficulties physical-challenges

Chuck Close: Face Book
by Chuck Close

Chuck Close's honest, personal memoir about his life and work makes an ideal book for kids who find school challenging, who are creative or who see the world a bit differently from their peers. In other words, this one's for most everyone.

Close describes his road to becoming an artist as one of necessity. As a dyslexic student who also struggled with math and with memorizing names and dates, he found a way to master the material. For instance, he made a 10-foot-long illustrated map of Lewis and Clark's expedition for history class. "Art was what I did to convince others that I was interested in school," Close writes. "It was what I did to feel good about myself." His best-known paintings also resulted from Close's desire to surmount a challenge. He suffers from prosopagnosia, or face blindness: "But if I can flatten someone's face, I have a much better sense of what he or she looks like." He takes a photograph of his subject, and his portraits distill those photographs into grids comprised of tiny squares.

Step by step, Close describes his process of painting a face square by square. The question-and-answer format of the book also reflects Close's learning style. The book's brilliant centerpiece consists of a series of overlays: his self-portraits, divided into thirds, line up precisely, forehead to forehead, chin to chin. It illustrates the importance of those small squares, the difference between a horizontal/vertical grid versus a diagonal grid, the effect of watercolors or woodcuts on a mood. A winner.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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