Thumb Print

Bruce Conner (American, 1933-2008)
Sheet: 41 x 29 in. (104.14 x 73.66 cm.); 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 in. (3.18 x 3.18 cm.) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Museum, Anonymous Gift 
Accession Number:
© 2018 Conner Family Trust, San Francisco / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 
Not on View

One of the most important achievements at Tamarind was the establishment of a series of steps to explain, verify and validate the complicated practice of printmaking. One basic requirement was an artist’s signature on each work. Bruce Conner, best known for his complex and socially critical assemblages, was engaged with the concept of artistic identity. It is thus no surprise to find the artist seizing on its accepted form—the signature—while working at Tamarind. Conner decided that instead of a signature, his thumbprint should suffice to record all of his prints. This was also a comment on the pristine requirements of the workshop, where any fingerprint on a lithograph was considered an unacceptable blemish, made by a careless printer. All of Conner’s lithographs are marked with his thumbprint instead of his signature. This print, his last at Tamarind, uses the thumbprint itself as the subject matter; it has been viewed as a parting comment on the rigid professional standards of printmaking at Tamarind.

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