The artist Chuck Close, famed for his oversize portraits that hang on the walls of museums and private collections worldwide, has been accused of inappropriate conduct by women who say he lured them into posing nude and made personal and suggestive remarks, violating an unwritten code of professionalism between artists and live models.
However Close has fought back against his accusers, defending the highly personal interactions as an essential part of his artistic process, and saying that causing somebody “discomfort” is not a “major offense.”
Artist Julia Fox tells Huffington Post she went to Close’s studio to pose for photos, but “it caught me off guard when he insisted I take my clothes off.” Fox says when she removed her clothes Close, 77, told her, “Your pussy looks delicious.”
Another artist and art teacher, Langdon Graves, told The New York Times that she was excited to be invited to Close's studio.
But when she got there, he “asked me to take my clothes off. Then he started telling me about sexual acts that he and a local waitress perform on each other.”
He also asked Graves highly invasive questions about her intimate grooming habits and remarked on how lucky her boyfriend was, according to the Times.
“I thought, ‘I don’t want this man to be saying these things to me,’” she said. “It was just this profound disappointment.”
When Graves made it clear she would not strip, Close wheeled himself over to his easel and went back to work.
“I let myself out,” she said.
Close said he did not remember this incident but that it sounded possible, the Times reported.
A third woman, artist Delia Brown, says Close asked her to pose after they met at a Hamptons dinner.
But when she called to set up the sitting, he said she would be topless.
Brown refused, saying she felt “a little bit insulted.”
Close, who is well known for his nude photographs, did not dispute the allegation.
Close, who uses a wheelchair and has limited use of his arms and legs from a collapsed spinal artery in 1988, has not sought to deny the accusations, but has attempted to minimize his actions, saying: “I’ve never had a complaint in 50 years. Not one. Last time I looked, discomfort was not a major offense. I never reduced anyone to tears, no one ever ran out of the place. If I embarrassed anyone or made them feel uncomfortable, I am truly sorry, I didn’t mean to. I acknowledge having a dirty mouth, but we’re all adults.”
In an earlier statement to the Times, Close said: “As a quadriplegic, I try to live a complete, full life to the extent possible. But given my extreme physical limitations, I have found that utter frankness is the only way to have a personal life.”
A lawyer for Close said, “[The] bottom line of all the allegations is that no sexual act ever occurred... The most that can be said... is that he uttered some words... which are alleged to have offended the sensibilities of these adult individuals.”