Scribble Book: Self Portrait
The idea of a book without words had resonance for Chuck Close. As a child, his severe dyslexia stood in the way of reading, making images all the more important. He remembers a visual encyclopedia from his early years and the feeling of being overtaken by the intensity of its pictures. The idea also resonated with his ongoing interest in revealing the process of his work, which he accomplishes largely through visual presentation, using very few words, if any.
Scribble Book is a self-portrait that emerges step-by-step out of the printing process, one plate and one color at a time. The viewer follows a series of nine individual plate proofs (volume 1) along with a corresponding series of nine progressive proofs (volume 2). By comparing the plate proofs against the progressives, the viewer may ascertain not only the effect as one color is added to another to create the final nine-color portrait, but also the compositional decisions and careful modifications made by the artist at each stage of the project.
A similar work was made with twelve plates and included in the exhibition Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2004. It was an immediate success. However, Close became fully aware of the effectiveness of the work only by means of an error: two of the prints were hung out of sequence, a circumstance that evaded the notice of both Close and the museum staff. It was not long before representatives of the museum received letters from two visitors who had noticed the error. “And just imagine,” Close relates, “if two people took the time to write letters, how many more must have figured it out and not bothered to write in!” Careful viewing was all that was needed, and the work inspired just that.
Scribble Book is presented in this Little Steidl edition as two accordion-fold books. The first shows the series of plate proofs, and the second the series of progressive proofs, culminating with a 9-color self-portrait. For those seeking a more detailed understanding of the process, these books are accompanied by a separate text in which the artist gives a personal account of his drawing process as recorded through printmaking.
Artist book / original print work for the offset-lithographic medium
Trade edition: two hand-bound, accordion-fold books with board covers and one stitched booklet housed in a printed board slipcase
Page format 29.2 x 34.3 cm (11.5 x 13.5 in.)
Dimensions of each unfolded accordion: 280.6 x 34.3 cm (110.5 x 13.5 in.)
Accordions are each 9 pages, each with 9 color plates
Text booklet 29.2 x 34.3 cm (11.5 x 13.5 in.); 8 pages; text in English
Paper: Hahnemühle Natural Line Velin 170g, an acid-free, naturally sized, alkaline buffered paper that meets the highest permanency standards under ANSI Z 39.48-1992, DIN ISO 9706, and DIN 6738.
Boards: acid-free Köhlerbox Special from Albert Köhler, Gegenbach
Printing: this original work for the offset-lithographic medium was printed with 9 inks on Steidl’s Roland 700 press.
Concept and work: Chuck Close
Project development: Nina Holland and Jerry Sohn/Little Steidl
Book design: Chuck Close, Nina Holland, and Gerhard Steidl
Artist’s text: Chuck Close; recorded and edited by Nina Holland
Scans: Steidl, Göttingen
Printing: Steidl, Göttingen
Binding: bound by hand at Färbers Bücherwerkstatt, Mietingen
Little Steidl: 2013
Price: €125 in Germany
A signed limited edition of Scribble Book is available through Little Steidl.
About the Artist
Chuck Close was born in Monroe, Washington in 1940 and pursued his education in visual art at Yale University. Photography has been an integral part of his painting process since the mid-1960s and later grew into a body of work in its own right that includes large-format Polaroids and daguerreotypes. Close has also distinguished himself as a master in the area of printmaking. Since 1967 his work has been the subject of more than 100 major exhibitions throughout the world.