Francesco Clemente: Watercolors

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Open: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm by appointment

909 Madison Avenue, NY 10021, New York Upper East Side, USA
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm by appointment


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Francesco Clemente: Watercolors

New York

Francesco Clemente: Watercolors
to Thu 1 Oct 2020
Mon-Sat 10am-6pm by appointment

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Lévy Gorvy presents Francesco Clemente: Watercolors, an exhibition that surveys three decades of work in the medium. This presentation follows the recent Francesco Clemente: Pastels at the gallery’s London location.

Artworks


5-10-2020, 2020
Watercolor on paper
18 1/16 x 23 15/16 inches (45.9 x 60.8 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Farzad Owrang

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5-24-2020, 2020
Watercolor on paper
18 1/16 x 23 15/16 inches (45.9 x 60.8 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Farzad Owrang

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5-8-2020, 2020
Watercolor on paper
18 1/16 x 23 15/16 inches (45.9 x 60.8 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Farzad Owrang

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A Story Well Told I, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told II, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told III, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told IV, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told IX, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told V, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told VI, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told VII, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told VIII, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told X, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told XI, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told XII, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told XIII, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told XIV, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told XIX, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told XV, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told XVI, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told XVII, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told XVIII, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told XX, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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A Story Well Told XXI, 2013
Watercolor on paper
11 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches (29.5 x 21 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Chain, 1996
Watercolor on paper
55 1/2 x 55 inches (141 x 139.7 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Friends, 2010
Watercolor on paper
14 x 20 inches (35.6 x 50.8 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Gold on Gold VI, 2016
Watercolor and miniature on paper
20 x 14 inches (50.8 x 35.6 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Notturno Indiano I, 2019
Watercolor on handmade paper
25 x 16 inches (63.5 x 40.6 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Notturno Indiano II, 2019
Watercolor on handmade paper
25 x 16 inches (63.5 x 40.6 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Notturno Indiano III, 2019
Watercolor on handmade paper
25 x 16 inches (63.5 x 40.6 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Notturno Indiano IV, 2019
Watercolor on handmade paper
25 x 16 inches (63.5 x 40.6 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Notturno Indiano V, 2019
Watercolor on handmade paper
25 x 16 inches (63.5 x 40.6 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Notturno Indiano VI, 2019
Watercolor on handmade paper
25 x 16 inches (63.5 x 40.6 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Shadow III, 2017
Watercolor and miniature on paper
18 x 24 inches (45.7 x 61 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Shadow VI, 2017
Watercolor and miniature on paper
18 x 24 inches (45.7 x 61 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Shadow XIX, 2017
Watercolor on handmade paper
18 x 24 inches (45.7 x 61 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Vanitas, 2010
Watercolor on paper
14 x 20 inches (35.6 x 50.8 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Zen Star, 2015
Watercolor and miniature on paper
18 x 24 inches (45.7 x 61 cm)
Courtesy of Francesco Clemente Studio; Collection of the Artist, New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Levy Gorvy New York Francesco Clemente 1

Levy Gorvy New York Francesco Clemente 2

Levy Gorvy New York Francesco Clemente 3

Levy Gorvy New York Francesco Clemente 4

Levy Gorvy New York Francesco Clemente 5

Levy Gorvy New York Francesco Clemente 6

Both exhibitions have been curated by architect Bill Katz, a close friend of the artist to highlight and celebrate not only Clemente’s mastery of the visual effects of his materials, but also the depth of physical and metaphysical concerns that inform his artistic practice. On view at the gallery’s New York space, Francesco Clemente: Watercolors features many works that have never before been exhibited. A fully illustrated publication accompanies Lévy Gorvy’s exhibitions, featuring a “playlist” of poetry selected by the artist in dialogue with his pastels and watercolors. Essays by Carlos Basualdo and Raymond Foye illuminate the continuity between visual art, poetry, storytelling, music, and spirituality in Clemente’s work from the 1980’s until today.

Throughout his career, Clemente has experimented widely with various mediums, from ink drawings to oil and tempera painting, as well as site-specific installations including tapestries and sculptural objects. Suited to his famously nomadic lifestyle, watercolor took a prominent role early in the artist’s career. In the 1970s, he began traveling extensively, particularly throughout India, where he immersed himself in the country’s manifold aesthetic traditions. Watercolors, pastels, and handmade paper, preferably from Pondicherry, became the key tools, light and portable, for capturing his experiences. Clemente emphasizes the ability of watercolor to bleed into paper and generate veils of semi-transparent color, employing it to emphasize the creative stimulus he has found on the Indian subcontinent. His art often alludes to Hindu mythology, encompassing an approach to form and identity that foregrounds a representation of fluidity. In his recent series Gold on Gold (2016) and Shadow (2017), Clemente integrated Indian miniature paintings, a practice he adopted in the 1980s when he created Francesco Clemente Pinxit (1981), now in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

While Clemente’s ingenious use of watercolor was initially inspired by his trips to India, his innovative exchanges in New York and elsewhere also nurtured its development. Following in the footsteps of William Blake (whose work he and Allen Ginsberg referenced in their collaborations in 1983 and 1984), Clemente takes up watercolors to realize images that mix the personal and spiritual, recognizable figures and abstract forms. He has developed a powerful vocabulary of images, figures, and symbols, many of which reappear throughout his oeuvre, as seen in Symmetry (1991) and Chain (1996), two watercolors from his Book of the Sea series.

At the core of Clemente’s artistic project is the need to confront the suggestiveness of reality—the fantasies, visions, and stories human beings have historically fostered into myths. Even explicit subject matter feeds into this; as Raymond Foye has observed, Clemente aims “not to shock but to explore the erotic impulse impassively—to deny the possibility that one might be intimidated by one’s own desires.” This tendency is evident in such recent watercolors as A Story Well Told (2013) and Notturno Indiano (2019), series that were inspired by the myth of Apollo and Daphne and a novella by Antonio Tabucchi, respectively. In these works, Clemente’s aqueous treatment induces a sense of tranquility that allows the viewer to navigate taboo subjects within a broader fascination with the material life of watercolor as a medium.

The artist’s fascination with the emotive power of color and form is also central to Beauty Without Witness, Clemente’s latest body of works in watercolor, made in this time of self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The richly colored seascapes of this series feature shells and toys washed ashore, evoking fantastic worlds and nostalgia for childhood memories.

Concurrently on view at the gallery in New York will be Pat Steir: Waterfall Paintings on Paper, an exhibition by Clemente’s contemporary and close friend. A quintessential part of Steir’s acclaimed practice, her works on paper foreground the artist’s striking gestural approach to mark-making and composition.

Installation view, Francesco Clemente: Watercolors, Lévy Gorvy New York, 2020. Photo: Farzad Owrang

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