Working with an array of assistants, printmakers and publishers, Close explored just about every conceivable type of printmaking technique, from etching, aquatint, lithography, handmade paper, direct gravure, silkscreen, traditional Japanese...
Working with an array of assistants, printmakers and publishers, Close explored just about every conceivable type of printmaking technique, from etching, aquatint, lithography, handmade paper, direct gravure, silkscreen, traditional Japanese woodcuts to reduction linocuts, among many others. While this formal exploration had taken place, Close stuck to the same subject throughout his career - the portrait, both the self-portrait and images of friends, family and fellow artists - and maintained, with very few exceptions, almost exactly the same composition, face-on to the camera and cropped down to head and shoulders. After his early success with his paintings and an association with the photorealists of the late 1960s, Close was seduced by printmaking when he created the mezzotint Keith,1972. The serial quality of making a large-scale print, where the artist would produce one section of the image, then make a print, then continue until the final result was a series that slowly built up to a final image, became the conceptual basis for the rest of his career.
Chuck Close's preoccupation with the overall unity of surface is a fundamental quality that marks all his work. 'All-overness', where all areas of the composition are given equal emphasis, was an element that he admired in Abstract Expressionism, particularly in the work of Jackson Pollock and Willem De Kooning. It is a compositional preference that has its modernist heritage in Surrealist automatism, the fractured reconstructions of Cubism, the Neo-impressionist styles of Pointillism and Divisionism and the unified brushwork of Cézanne. It also has its historical ancestry in art as diverse as ancient Roman mosaics and Aboriginal dot paintings. In this "Self Portrait, Scribble Etching", one can witness Close's use of overall unity in the work - the light, shading, and use of color are applied evenly thereby removing any focus from one area or another.
Created in 2002, this embossed relief print is hand-signed by Chuck Close in pencil in the lower margin and numbered from the edition of 40. It is also part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.