From 18 October 1996 to 17 January 1997
Curated by Tilman Osterwold
In 1984 three artists living in New York – Andy Warhol (Pittsburgh, 1928 – New York, 1987), Jean-Michel Basquiat (New York, 1960-1988) and Francesco Clemente (Naples, 1952) – engaged in a collective project, working on canvases, two artists at a time or all three together, creating paintings of great visual impact, which constitute an important episode in the context of ‘Eighties painting. The successful outcome of these Collaborations stems from a compositional method that recalls that of the “exquisite corpses” used by the Surrealists: each artists paints without knowing what the others are painting. In the works that result from these shared labors one fully senses how each artist was able to express himself with his typical and distinctive stroke, style and imaginative universe, and how at the same time the specific qualities of each blend perfectly with those of the others. Images, typographical letters taken from advertisements and large-scale trademarks are transposed by Andy Warhol onto canvas through the use of his usual silkscreen technique. This impersonal approach to painting is contrasted by Basquiat’s violently colored painting, populated by anthropomorphic figures drawn with aggressive brushstrokes that partially erase Warhol’s images. Clemente, instead, does not renounce painting the typical figures of his ideational universe: portraits, self-portraits, human figures always captured in expressions, stances and atmospheres that are charged with mystery and ambiguity, which, precisely because of their disquietude, contrast with both the tranquillizing recognizability of Warhol’s images and the youthful violence of Basquiat’s work.