FRANCESCO CLEMENTE (B. 1952)
FRANCESCO CLEMENTE (B. 1952)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN ESTEEMED PRIVATE COLLECTION
FRANCESCO CLEMENTE (B. 1952)

Tongue

Details
FRANCESCO CLEMENTE (B. 1952)
Tongue
signed, titled and dated ‘'Tongue' 1998 Francesco Clemente’ (on the overlap)
oil on canvas
46 1/8 x 92 1/8in. (117.2 x 234cm.)
Painted in 1998
Provenance
Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London.
Private Collection.
Anon. sale, Phillips London, 29 June 2008, lot 273.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Exhibited
London, Anthony d'Offay Gallery, Francesco Clemente: The Painter's Wardrobe Anamorphic Paintings Self Portraits Tapestries and Pastels, 1999.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Spanning over two metres in width, Tongue (1998) is a majestic example of the rich symbolism and personal iconography that define Francesco Clemente’s oeuvre. Divided into two distinct picture planes, the work portrays a pair of large, imposing figures, their translucent white and fiery red forms lending them the appearance of an angel and devil. Occupying the right three-quarters of the canvas, the pale figure stretches his elbow in an anamorphic warp, while the horned demon is depicted sideways, pushing up against the plane of his pictorial counterpart. The eyes of both characters drip liquid paint. They can be considered as stand-ins for Clemente himself, who frequently depicted his own visage in his works. ‘Ultimately, Clemente’s art is as much about himself as it is about other people’, Michael Auping notes. ‘Clemente’s self-portrait is a central aspect in his art, a ghost-like protagonist staring out at the viewer glaring almond eyes, wide mouth, and short-cropped hair as he moves through a series of arcane dramas with history, art, religion, death, birth and, most intensely, his own psyche’ (M. Auping, ‘Francesco Clemente’, Art of Our Time: The Saatchi Collection, Vol. 4, London 1984, p. 32).

Alongside artists including Enzo Cucchi, Sandro Chia, Philip Taaffe and Ross Bleckner, Clemente was a leading member of the Neo-Expressionist movement that rose to international prominence during the 1980s. Championing figuration against the tide of Conceptual Art, he depicted the human figure in a rudimentary, expressive manner, his multi-layered compositions often evoking a sense of inner turmoil, alienation, and ambiguity. Clemente was fascinated by many metaphysical systems, including alchemy, astrology and, most significantly, Christianity. Rather than creating representations of biblical events, his canvases were intended as powerful, enigmatic comments on the modern human condition. ‘He approaches religion as he does art,’ notes Auping, ‘less as a monolithic set of beliefs and more as a living organism affected by our anxious responses to the everyday realities of life’ (M. Auping, ibid.). Laden with religious references, and conjuring the familiar device of consulting a good and evil version of oneself on each shoulder, Tongue exemplifies the powerful, fragmented symbolic language that underscores Clemente’s practice.

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