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PRINT March 2003

’80s THEN

Francesco Clemente

BROOKS ADAMS: Why do you think we’re talking about the ’80s now? Was it a heroic age?*

FRANCESCO CLEMENTE: [Laughs.] New York had an extraordinary texture at the time, when I first came from India in April of 1980. In India I was familiar with the word tantra, which means texture, weave. The city itself was this weave of diverse experiences.

BA: Who were the first painters you became friends with here?

FC: David Salle and Julian Schnabel.

BA: What affinity did you see with Salle?

FC: I was very fond of the early Salles, where you have just the monochrome canvas with the charcoal drawing and one other element of disturbance. I could relate to the timidity of it, to the understated eroticism of it, and to the irony of it. Understatement, irony, timidity—these were all, to me, good values.

BA: In January of 1980 you were in Madras making these billboards, these big gouaches. Did you know you were

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