Those incremental units have not vanished, but they take the form of rounded or hard-edged scribble shapes not determined by a grid. Close's actual hand - the presence of his pencil on the softground plate - seems more palpable than ever.
To make this portfolio, he had to alter his approach to the image. He had long wanted to make a face using color separations. (Color separations are made through variations on the primaries - red, yellow and blue.) Rather than creating the image it one square at a time, he needed to think in terms of the whole face at once. But the whole face could not come together until the final color was layered on. Therefore each individual state appears like a ghostly, scribbled echo of the entire face.
The print is relatively small, zooming in tightly on Close's face, cropping it off on all four sides. It is hard not to think it symbolizes the mature artist looking back on his career, confronting both the viewer and himself in a masterful portfolio of intimate-sized etchings with a hand-drawn feel. But Close's own explanation for why he editioned this portfolio is pragmatic and unpretentious: "I wanted to demystify the process so that people understand how things happen." "How things happened" is displayed here in twelve different state proofs showing each color used and twelve progressive proofs showing the methodical build up to the final image.
Self-Portrait/Scribble/Etching Portfolio, 2000
Soft ground etching
|Size: 18 1/4 x 15 1/4" each
Pace Editions, Inc., New York (Bill Hall, Julia D'Amario, Jessica Miller, Kathy Kuehn)
Pace Editions, Inc., New York
|Part of Exhibition: Yes