Overview

Fanny/Fingerpainting, a portrait of Close's grandmother-in-law, represents one of the largest and most masterly executions of a technique the artist developed in the mid-l980s. That technique involved the direct application of pigment to a surface with the artist's fingertips. By adjusting the amount of pigment and the pressure of his finger on the canvas, Close could achieve a wide range of tonal effects. Typically, he worked from a black and white photograph which he would divide into many smaller units by means of a grid. He then transposed the grid onto a much larger canvas and meticulously reproduced each section of it. The result is a monumental, close-up view that forces an uncomfortable intimacy upon the viewer.

Seen from a distance, the painting looks like a giant, silver-toned photograph that unrelentingly reveals every crack and crevice of the sitter's face. Closer up, the paint surface dissolves into a sea of fingerprints that have an abstract beauty, even as they metaphorically suggest the withering of the sitter's skin with age. The fingerpaintings provide a far more literal record of the artist's touch than most abstract expressionist brushwork -- but are at the same time dictated by an abstract, distinctly impersonal system.

Inscription

upper left reverse: c 1985 / C. Close / "FANNY/FINGERPAINTING" / 1985 / oil on gessoed canvas

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

(PaceWildenstein Gallery, New York); purchased 1987 by NGA.

Exhibition History
1986
Chuck Close: Recent Work, The Pace Gallery, New York, 1986, unnumbered catalogue, repro.
1994
Chuck Close: Retrospektive, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany; Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, 1994, no. 12, repro.
1998
Chuck Close, Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Seattle Art Museum; Hayward Gallery, London, 1998-1999, no. 161, repro.
2007
Chuck Close - Pinturas: 1968-2006, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, 2007, no. 13, repro.
2010
50 Years at Pace, The Pace Gallery, New York, 2010, no. 107, repro.
Bibliography
1987
Lyons, Lisa, and Robert Storr. Chuck Close. New York, 1987: 18, 39-40. 144, 145, repros.
1989
Strick, Jeremy. Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture: Selections for the Tenth Anniversary of the East Building. Washington, D.C., 1989: 142, repro. 143.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 143, repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 277, repro.
1995
"Gallery Q." Quantum 6, no. 1 (September/October 1995): 2, repro.
1995
Morris, Bob. "The Night: True Tales From the Night Of the Living Hamptons." The New York Times (30 July 1995).
1995
Yau, John. Chuck Close: Recent Paintings. Exh. cat. PaceWildenstein, New York, 1995: 10-13, repro.
1997
The Portraits Speak: Chuck Close in conversation with 27 of his subjects. Intro. by Dave Hickey; Ed. Joanne Kesten. New York, 1997: repro. 227, 237.
1998
Allen, Henry. "Art; Chuck Close, Up Close And Impersonal; At the Hirshhorn, Staring Abstraction Right in the Face." The Washington Post (22 October 1998): B1.
1998
Shiff, Richard. "Allover You: The Art of Chuck Close." Artforum (April 1998): 95-96.
1998
Wiens, Ann. "Headshot: An Interview with Chuck Close." New Art Examiner 26, no. 1 (September 1998): repro. 41.
2000
The Washingtonian (July 2000): 81, repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 456-457, no. 385, color repro.
2007
Finch, Christopher. Chuck Close: Life. Munich, Berlin, London, and New York, 2007: 119-120, repro. (detail) 120, repro. 121, 332.
2010
Finch, Christopher. Chuck Close: Life. Munich, Berlin, London, and New York, 2010: 208-211, repro.
Technical Summary