spacer William J. Clintonspacer William J. Clinton (born 1946)
Forty-second President (1993-2001)

Among the most noteworthy aspects of William Clinton's presidency was the stream of revelations, legal suits, and investigations related to his extramarital affairs both alleged and admitted and to his possible involvement in deceptive real estate schemes in his native Arkansas. Yet even when his alleged lying under oath, in regard to his affair with a White House intern, led to a Senate impeachment, he not only avoided being ousted from office; his popularity in the polls actually increased. But perhaps more noteworthy in the midst of these scandals was Clinton's own resilience, borne of an unfailing affability and an uncanny skill in dealing with a hostile Congress. It was that resilience that enabled him, despite the scandals, to take effective roles in key government initiatives, including an overhaul of the welfare system and the elimination of chronic annual deficits in federal spending.

Long known for his larger-than-life portraits, artist Chuck Close produced this likeness to raise money for Artists for Freedom of Expression in 1996. Preparing to take the Polaroid shot of Clinton that would be the basis for the final enlarged print, Close was afraid that Clinton would not want to give him much time. In fact, Clinton became fascinated with Close's project and was happy to give him as much time as he needed to get a satisfactory image.

Chuck Close (born 1940)
Giclée print on paper, 1996
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Chuck Close; courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

Enlarged image currently unavailable