Socialite Napkin, 1975

Collage with ink on paper

Lil Picard Collection, University of Iowa Museum of Art   703.1999

Another technique used by Picard to “dematerialize” was to draw on one panel inside a napkin with a liquid ink pen, then blot the drawing with the other side of the napkin, creating a kind of “ghost” print or “dematerialization.”

Constantly engaged with people, her friends as well as denizens of art and literary communities around the world, Picard sketched their portraits on napkins, as well as on notebooks and scraps of paper, while sitting in restaurants, listening to lectures, or watching performances. The portraits are a kind of extension of the journalistic interview. The napkin drawing and blotting method was a means by which Picard could “converse” with the subject. Indeed, Picard employed the napkin as a print matrix, taking advantage of the element of chance that is imbedded in the printmaking experience, and she used the method like it was a magic trick to engage her audience. The napkin portraits were an ingenious tool devised to engage Picard’s various interests.

The subjects of Picard’s “Napkinian Portraits” included Eleanor Antin, Christo, Sari Dienes, Marisol, Dorothy and Herb Vogel, Louis Nevelson, Peter Hutchinson, and Andy Warhol, among others.