Francesco Clemente: Three Worlds

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Raymond Foye;Ann Percy;Francesco Clemente;Stella Kramrisch;Ettore Sottsass

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Francesco Clemente (born in Naples March 23, 1952) is an Italian-born contemporary artist. His work is influenced by thinkers as diverse as Gregory Bateson, William Blake, Allen Ginsberg, and J Krishnamurti. Dividing his time between New York and Varanasi, India, Clemente has adopted for his paintings a vast variety of supports and mediums, exploring, discarding, and returning to oil paint, watercolor, pastel, and printmaking. His work develops in a non-linear mode, expanding and contracting in a fragmentary way, not defined by a style, but rather by his recording of the fluctuations of the self. His work is also nomadic. In the 1980s he divided his time between India and New York. While briefly associated with Neo-Expressionism he took an interest in collaborative works both with Indian craftsmen and with painters like Basquiat and Warhol, and poets like Robert Creeley and Ginsberg in New York. In an interview with The Brooklyn Rail, Clemente commented these poets had been looking at the East for inspiration and I was also anxious to evade the materialism of the West. In the 1990s Clemente explored intensely erotic imagery, inspired by the Tantra traditions both of India and Tibet, and turning contemporary preoccupations with identity and sexuality into an occasion to ask questions about the nature of the self. In the 2000s Clemente underwent a darker and grotesque phase, returning in recent years to luminous images of repose and transformation. Since the 1980s until today, Clemente has also chronicled New York intellectual and social life through a great number of portraits, contributing to the revival of a genre until then somehow discredited. Clemente's art has been presented in solo and group shows internationally. This is the catalogue for the exhibition in 1990-91 traveled from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT, to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.


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