Chuck Close. Self-Portrait. 1991

Chuck Close Self-Portrait 1991

  • Not on view

Like many Post–Minimalist artists, Close values handiwork; he has used obsessively time-consuming and labor–intensive techniques to make portraits in a variety of mediums. The meticulous photorealism with which Close began his career, demonstrated in his portrait paintings of the 1970s and 1980s, gave way in the 1990s to an increasingly painterly style. To make Self-Portrait he mapped a large Polaroid photograph onto a roughly drawn grid of squares, then used a somber palette of grays and browns to fill in the squares with organic shapes resembling lozenges, donuts, and hot dogs. Together the shapes form an allover, teeming field of dark–hued abstraction that, from the short distance of a few steps, transforms into a recognizable, head–and–shoulders likeness of the artist. Viewers can see the component parts and the cohesive whole as well as the two-way street between them. In this way they collaborate with the artist in the breakdown and composition of the image.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 113.
Oil on canvas
8' 4" x 7' (254 x 213.4 cm)
Gift of UBS
Object number
© 2021 Chuck Close
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].