In Brief

Renowned Artist Chuck Close Under Fire for Alleged Sexual Misconduct [UPDATED]

Two women have come forward accusing Close of sexual misconduct, claiming he made vulgar comments to them after inviting them to his studio to pose for him.

Chuck Close’s self-portrait for his series of 86th Street subway portraits (photo courtesy MTA Arts & Design/Rob Wilson via Wikipedia)

Two women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct by Chuck Close, claiming that the artist made vulgar comments to them after inviting them to his studio to pose for him. They described the incidents in separate interviews with the Huffington Post, who first reported these claims.

Artist Julia Fox said she met Close at a fundraising event in 2013, where he offered to photograph her in his studio. During the session, the artist allegedly asked her to undress, and although she felt uncomfortable doing so, she agreed out of politeness. According to Fox, Close approached her when she was fully nude and told her, “Your pussy looks delicious.” She tried to exit the studio at once, but Close stopped her and tried to pay her $200 before she left, which she refused. She kept the incident to herself until this fall, when she posted an Instagram story describing it to her followers. Fox had approached Hyperallergic in November with the same claims, and her account, relayed by phone, matches what she told HuffPo.

HuffPo also interviewed an anonymous woman who claims she was invited to Close’s studio after meeting him at a lecture at Yale, where she was a graduate student at the time. After she undressed, and despite feeling anxious about the situation, Close allegedly asked if he could touch her. She refused, and Close asked her to leave, but not before giving her $200. The woman reported the incident to the associate dean of the Yale School of Art, Samuel Messer, who corroborated the story with HuffPo. Messer reportedly did not take action at the time because the woman was not comfortable publicizing the incident.

A third woman, Delia Brown, also said that Close offered to arrange a photo session with her, which she felt hinged on her being nude. When she refused to pose topless for him, prior to the shoot, he told her he was no longer interested.

Lance Gotko, a lawyer representing Close, dismissed the allegations in the following statement sent to HuffPo:

[T]he bottom line of all the allegations is that no sexual act ever occurred — in fact, Mr. Close never even touched any of your witnesses. The most that can be said about the allegations against Mr. Close is that he uttered some words (some of which were sexually frank) which are alleged to have offended the sensibilities of these adult individuals… This does not come close to reaching the level, and would only serve to cheapen the coin, of the terrible misconduct that rightly has been condemned of late.

Hyperallergic has reached out to Pace Gallery, which represents Close, and will update this story as it develops.

Update, 12/20, 6:40 pm: Chuck Close has issued an apology in response to the allegations.

Hyperallergic is committed to reporting on sexual harassment in the art world. If you have a story about personal or institutional abuse in our field, please write to Claire Voon at [email protected].

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