The three-gallery Francesco Clemente exhibition in April was one of those events—so frequent on the art scene today—that strikes one as having more to do with commerce than with art. The Mary Boone, Leo Castelli (Greene Street), and Sperone Westwater Fischer galleries were filled with the recent work of this Italian painter, but the effect of the exhibition was not primarily an aesthetic one. For it gave the artist’s dealers an opportunity to make a statement about the current art market and what they viewed as Clemente’s place in it. Clearly they regard him as the hottest property around and are determined to make the most of it.

Needless to say, the hoopla surrounding an event of this kind is such that it is the event itself, rather than the art it contains, that everyone pays attention to. What the public comes to look at is not paint on canvas but the...


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