Dawn Clements

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Dawn Clements
The Name of the Rose (Self-Portrait, MacDowell)
Watercolor, ballpoint pen, colored pencil and graphite on paper.
72 1/2 x 29 inches (184.2 x 73.7 cm)
Gift of the Modern and Contemporary Collectors Committee and Lawrence R. Ricciardi.
Estate of the artist (Pierogi, NY); from whom acquired by the Morgan.

Throughout her career, Clements created vast, intricate drawings recording her environment. Using ink, ball point pen, and occasionally watercolor, she would start with a small scene, then extend it by pasting additional sheets to produce large panoramas that could measure up to 70 feet wide. (The folds and creases produced in the process of manipulating the sheet become an integral part of the work.) By giving the same attention to insignificant items -- laundry tickets, candy wrappers -- as to fancy objects, she created drawings that are both intimate and large-scale. This unusual self-portrait is one of Clements' last drawings, made a few months before she died of cancer at age 50. She started it with a detailed rendering of her left arm wrapped into compression bandage, then added the rich pattern of her flowery dress, from which her bare feet emerge at the top of the sheet, as seen from her own viewpoint. In the white areas around the drawing, she jotted down extensive quotes from Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose, an audio version of which she was listening to while drawing.