The Departure of the Argonaut: Prints by Francesco Clemente

FEBRUARY 27 — MAY 24, 2015

Francesco Clemente’s double-spread lithographs for The Departure of the Argonaut comprise one of the most visually compelling artist’s books produced during the second half of the 20th century. The 34 color and 16 black-and-white prints respond to a wartime diary written in 1917
by the Italian writer and artist Alberto Savinio (1891–1952), who composed this text when, as a young army recruit during the first World War, he traveled by troop train to southern Italy and meditated on the Mediterranean world’s classical past. Savinio was the brother of painter Giorgio de Chirico (1888–1978). Clemente (b. 1952, Naples, Italy) made these lithographs for a lavish edition of the first English translation of Savinio’s diary, published by the Petersburg Press, London, and New York in 1986. The title of the book refers to the Greek mythical hero Jason and his companions, the Argonauts, who sailed on a long journey to find the Golden fleece. Clemente’s prints do not illustrate the text literally, yet are a dazzling journey to the heart of Savinio’s work. This exhibition is organized by Amy N. Worthen, curator of prints and drawings.

Francesco Clemente (Italian, born 1952)
The Departure of the Argonaut, 1986
Color lithograph and letterpress text on Okawara kozo paper
Sheet (each): 25 13/16 x 39 5/16 inches
Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections;
Purchased with funds from Rose F. Rosenfield and
General Deaccessioning Funds, 1991.1.Y
Photo: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

entirely unexpected