Art: Symbolist with Roller Skates

Francesco Clemente ranges unevenly from mystery to voyeurism

Three or four years ago, when the surprise of new figurative painting coming out of Europe was still fresh, when American critics were slapping the label of neoexpressionism on everything that moved, there was a good deal of excitement in New York City over three young Italian painters nicknamed, whether for convenience or as a tribute to their common origin in the land of opera, the three Cs--Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi.

Cucchi made end-of-history folk art, full of skulls and torrents of lava, cemeteries and crowing cocks. Chia, in a melange of 20th century styles ranging from early...

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