A rare glimpse into the life and work of an enigmatic master.
Photographer and filmmaker Luca Babini affords us unprecedented access to the life and work of the extraordinary Italian painter Francesco Clemente. One of the painters who achieved remarkable fame in the eighties-and one of the few to sustain his reputation-Clemente rarely gives interviews and dislikes being photographed. But when his dear friend Babini asked if he would let himself be photographed informally, on a day-to-day basis, Clemente agreed in the name of friendship and collaboration.
Since then, Babini has compiled an intimate and beautiful chronicle of Clemente's life and work. Francesco Clemente: Art and Life shows the artist in his studio-in New York, Amalfi, Taos, and Madras. This photographic record of Clemente's working process is as extraordinary as it is enlightening.
Poet and arts writer Rene Ricard traces the evolution of the artist's studio through time, while simultaneously acting as a contemporary Giorgio Vasari in his more personal discussion of Clemente, his art, and his life. The first book of its kind, Babini's photo journal will be published in conjunction with the retrospective of Francesco Clemente's work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in the fall of 1999.
Francesco Clemente, who enlivened the New York art scene in the 1980s along with a handful of other image-conscious Italians, including Sandra Chia, is said to be a reclusive artist who guards his privacy, but this richly informative book makes that assertion difficult to believe. Clemente himself has always offered a good deal of autobiography to his viewers, with works that have explored his own visage (and other parts) with relentless interest and introspection. And now comes Francesco Clemente
, filled with intimate pictures shot by his friend Luca Babini in Clemente studios from New York to New Mexico to Naples. Packed to bursting, the photographs show Clemente working away, with wife, kids, and dogs in tow. With its pictorial richness--paint-spattered floors, trampled rags, stacked canvases, raw-edged, unstretched paintings stapled to huge walls, encrusted studio shoes, and scores of photographs of works in progress--this book will be devoured by other artists, who will turn the pages in a lather of envy, not necessarily for Clemente's fame and success, but for the huge windows and high ceilings of his various work spaces.
Clemente is a fecund artist, and there are many wonderful shots of his art--whole walls and tables full of it--that make a succinct statement correlating productivity and achievement. Clemente has contributed a kind of prose poem for the first part of the book, in which he discusses being a painter, and there is also a rambling essay by art writer Rene Ricard on artists' studios from ancient Egypt to the Renaissance. But the pictures are the point of this book, and they handsomely reward the reader's attention. They constitute an invitation to spend time--years, in fact--with a painter whose inventiveness, ambition, and style have made him one of the most successful of his time. --Peggy Moorman