Chuck Close -
Emily / Fingerprint
American, b. 1940
Emily / Fingerprint, 1986
Carbon transfer etching, 54 x 41 inches
Pace Editions Inc.
Gift of Kathleen J. Crispell (LSA '67) and Thomas S. Porter (MBA '67)
The touchstone of Close's art is the photograph. Since the 1960s, he has used photography to generate self-portraits and portraits of friends and family in large-scale oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints. In addition to his use of the photograph, he further departs from traditional portrait painting in the deadpan poses of his sitters, and in an emphasis on process.
The Emily etching, with counterparts in an oil-based ink painting and a litho-ink drawing on silk paper, was derived by Close from a technique he initiated in the Fingerprint drawings of 1978. Using a photograph of Emily as a basis, he constructed her face with multiple impressions of his own fingerprint. The initial appearance of a straightforward portrait is complicated by an awareness of the artist's personal touch in making it, and by the fragility of the image that amplifies the slight wash of anxiety across Emily's face.