Francesco Clemente is one lucky bastard. This afternoon, I went to the Deitch Projects to see some of his work ranging from small drawings on paper to large paintings on linen, and was surprised to find works much different from the portraiture that I usually equate him with. I found myself staring at small scribbles, torn bits of paper, photos aligned in a horizontal row, and paintings of elements, neatly scattered within the parameters of the canvas. I found the paintings in the larger room to be a bit more enticing although I felt slightly confused. (Me, with my new haircut inspired by Vintage Danish Porn-in fact the same website John Currin used as reference for the paintings that were recently on view at the Gagosian gallery.)
Before wandering to the room parallel to the main entrance, I peeked at the work/price list and felt the hinges of my jaw release. Drop. Prices jumped out and I shockingly, humph, realized that the painting I had just photographed myself with is on sale for a whopping $450,000!
Hmmmmmm, Considering Francesco was born in 1952, I would say that is not too shabby. I know his work does well commercially, and his portraits, with their large, alien eyes, and awkward, too small bodies, have always fascinated me. But this older art, just didn’t have the same spark and glow that his other work boasts. But nevertheless, the drawings paintings and photographs, spanning from 1971-1979, are mostly for sale, and as I was told by the waif-like girl behind the front desk, all a part of the artists personal collection. Which brings me to the thought of “Not For Sale”, which closed about a month ago after a stint at PS1. In a recent review of this exhibition for New York Magazine, critic Jerry Saltz writes: “Not one artist in “Not for Sale” wrote [in regards to his/her piece] what I kept thinking: “I own this work because no one wanted to buy it.”
Ouch! I wouldn’t say that is necessarily true for the piece above, if I had the money to burn…I’d buy it.
“Francesco…Puoi prestarmi soldi perche vorrei compare questo quadro sopra! Grazie! La vita potrebbe essere uno ciclo….”
(Sorry, I forgot to write down the names of the above works, all are on view at Deitch on Grand Street, until June 2nd. Check it out and let me know what you think)