|Chuck Close, Lucas, oil and pencil on canvas, 1986-87, on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY|
Chuck Close has been one of my favorite artists for as long
as I can remember. Born in 1940, Close has spent his 50+ year career creating
photorealistic paintings, many of which hang in major American museums, such as
the National Gallery of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of
Art, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Museum of Art and NY’s Museum of Modern Art
nuances of his subject’s faces, I was initially surprised to learn that Close
actually suffers from Prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness—which makes
it difficult for him to recognize people in their three-dimensional form. But
in reality, this makes perfect sense, since Close has recognized this
impairment as the force behind his larger than life, two-dimensional
portraits—in doing so he is able to study and memorize the facial structures
(and recognition) that most people take for granted.
|Chuck Close, Phil/Fingerprint, oil on canvas, 1980|
many people agree—he has painted the likenesses of his friends and other art
world aficionados—including but not limited to: Cindy Sherman, Kate Moss, Brad
Pitt, Barack Obama, Carly Simon, Richard Serra, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy
Lichtenstein, Philip Glass, and Hillary and Bill Clinton. While all of these
works are extraordinary, it is his portraits using fingerprints that are the
most interesting to me. Sure, his brushwork is impressive, but when is the last
time you saw a hyper-realistic portrait made solely of fingerprints measuring
over 6 feet tall? In his 1985 work, Fanny/Fingerpainting, Close represents his
late grandmother in-law using only his fingers, varying the amounts of pigment
on his fingers to depict the contours of her face. Similar works exist of his friend, composer Philip Glass, as
well as fellow artist Lucas Samaras.
|Chuck Close, Fanny/Fingerpainting oil on canvas, 1985|
thumbprint cookies. Small in size and customizable with your jam selection,
these works make use of your thumbprint as well, though of course not to the
degree of mastery that Close employs. That being said, I am fairly certain that
these cookies taste quite a bit better than the beforementioned portraits, and
for that small feat, we shall celebrate!
2 c. flour (I used 1 c. white + 1 c. whole
1 c. toasted, ground whole almonds (but not
ground too much, or you will end up with almond butter!)
1 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
raw or coarse sugar, for topping
jam(s) of your choice
medium-sized bowl until combined. Add in the salt and baking powder, and set
aside. In a larger bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until white and
fluffy, a few minutes. Add in the vanilla extract
as well as the egg, and beat another 3-4 minutes. Stir in the dry ingredients in a couple of additions, and
when combined, chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
chill again. When ready to bake, lay out on a parchment (or non-stick baking mat)
lined cookie sheet about an inch apart, and carefully indent with either your
thumb (or my preferred method: the rounded part of a teaspoon-sized measuring spoon).
Sprinkle with raw or coarse sugar if you wish, and then straight to the oven! Bake for approximately 12 minutes (checking around 10 minutes), until faintly
golden and cooked through.
|Fresh out of the oven and ready to fill!|
spooning into a plastic (Ziploc or other) bag. Since I decided to use two
different jams (sugar free apricot and raspberry jams), I measured out about a cup of
each, and had plenty left over when I finished (keep your jam-filled plastic bags in the fridge for a couple of days, and treat yourself to some creatively-jammed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!). When the cookies are cool, cut a tiny snip in the tip of each bag, and
carefully fill with about ½ teaspoon worth of jam. Allow the jam to set, or feel free to start enjoying right then and there!
|The finished product…it’s no Close portrait, but my arrangement is a bit smiley!|
Extra credit to anyone who plans to bake these in December 2016 for
the opening of the Second Avenue Subway in New York City; it was announced in
2012 that Chuck Close has been commissioned to complete as many as twelve large
mosaics for the yet to be completed East 86th Street Subway station!