Biddington's Home & Search

PEDIGREE & PROVENANCE--Art Words & Terms    JAKE BIDDINGTON'S INVESTING--Advice on Art Collecting
MY ART--Art for Kids    BIDDINGTON'S Home & Search

Creative Process at Biddington's

John Clem Clarke
Pop Artist

John Clem Clarke digital print Door to the Sea

John Clem Clarke "Door to the Sea"
Digital Print

CREATIVE PROCESS visits the Soho (New York) studio of noted Pop artist John Clem Clarke.

Editor's Note: John Clem Clarke is the exception that proves the rule about artists gaining recognition late in life. Clarke came to New York, started painting and gained almost immediate notoriety. His series re-working the Old Masters--such as Rembrandt's "Night Watch" and and Velasquez's "Las Meninas"--are popular icons of the late 60's. These works now hang in major museums. John Clem Clarke's work fuses Photo-realism techniques with a Pop Art imagery. Clarke's works have traded in the auction marketplace for the past 25 years making it interesting from an investment--as well an aesthetic--perspective.

John Clem Clarke painting

John Clem CLARKE: On weekends, I spend a lot of time roaming around antiques markets and flea markets. My paintings use the old objects and photographs I find there as a point of departure.

John Clem Clarke painting "In the Mood"
Acrylic on linen on mylar with phonograph, 1999

Pop artist John Clem Clarke's detail of painting with plastic eagle

John Clem CLARKE: I frequently use illustration devices--like those used in the great ads from the fifties--to help my paintings communicate. I try to make the paintings seem as commercially produced as possible. People grew up looking at commercial illustration and print advertising, so they are comfortable with it as a visual style. I make art in a way that people find it immediately accessible.

Detail of John Clem Clarke painting with plastic eagle

John Clem CLARKE: Of course, the things I paint are handmade or very individual objects. So, I play back and forth using unique objects and a mass-produced presentation style. You might say that ideas I express are a lot more complex than the apparently simple style I use to express them.

John Clem CLARKE: I make paintings from groups of photos. It's hard combining them in a way that the light and scale appear consistent but I've learned to use a digital camera and computer for this.

John Clem Clarke pop painting Car with Palms at Cabin

John Clem Clarke painting "Car with Palms at Cabin"
Acrylic on linen on mylar, 1995

John Clem CLARKE: Before I discovered technology, I used a very different technique: I would make a maquette--a study--for the painting working in layers: the first layer was the black-line painting on mylar. Then I painted a colored layer underneath using the line drawing as an overlay. This is the same technique Disney cartoonists used years ago. Of course, when I was developing it as my own way of working, I didn't know that.

John Clem Clarke  for the painting Money

John Clem Clarke "Money"
Painting Maquette

John Clem Clarke maquette for the painting Western Service Station

John Clem CLARKE: In the maquette, I worked out very specific details for the painting. Then using an overhead projector to project the maquette onto a large canvas, I drew the projected image. Then I painted it.

John Clem Clarke "Western Service Station"
Painting Maquette

John Clem CLARKE: Now that I use computers for the design phase, I no longer have this kind of artifact from the early stages of my work.

John Clem Clarke painting Angel detail

John Clem CLARKE: For the actual painting, I use large stencils. I lay them onto the canvas and sponge the paint on. This way there are no brush strokes. Sometimes, I overlay the stencils so that you get the sort of effect you see when a picture isn't printed quite right--just a little offset. I like that irregular edge.

Detail from John Clem Clarke painting "Angel"

John Clem Clarke painting Coffee and Sandwich

John Clem Clarke painting
"Coffee and Sandwich"
Acrylic on linen on mylar, 1992

John Clem CLARKE: Until 1990, I painted on canvas on traditional stretchers. But now I paint on linen mounted on mylar. The paintings are absolutely flat and roll up; they have eyelets and are pinned directly onto the wall. This lets the image blend into the wall--so you don't know where the painting ends and the wall begins.

John Clem CLARKE: Another of series of paintings I'm doing involves pentimenti.

Editor's Note: A "pentimento" is a bit of underpainting on an artwork that was painted out in the final version. Over time, these very faint, ghostly images surface on the painting as evidence of compositional changes.

John Clem Clarke's  painting Rifle/TV Pentimenti

John Clem Clarke painting
"Rifle/TV Pentimenti"
Acrylic on linen on mylar, 1997

John Clem CLARKE: Instead of painting out my "mistakes", I let them stay on the canvas as alternative solutions to the painting and to show the thought process in making a painting. It bothers me when things look too good. I like to paint and paint and paint, until I get it wrong.

Pop artist John Clem Clarke Artist in His Studio

John Clem CLARKE: Art about art is a continuous thread through my work.

John Clem Clarke in His Studio

John Clem Clarke painting Ship in Fog

John Clem Clarke painting "Ship in Fog"
Acrylic on linen on mylar, 1995

View John Clem Clarke's paintings, maquettes and prints offered for sale in

Price Range: $350-$35,000

In MY ART John Clem Clarke talks to children about making a mixed-media construct painting.

Smithsonian Archives of American Art Oral History Interview with John Clem Clarke

Public Collectors of John Clem Clarke's Paintings (abbreviated list):
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York)
The Museum of Modern Art (New York)
The Brooklyn Museum
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago)
Los Angeles County Museum
Dallas Museum of Art
Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, DC)
The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
Allentown Art Museum (Allentown, PA)
Utrecht Museum (The Netherlands)
Chase Manhattan Bank (New York)
Chelsea Piers--3 murals for facade (New York)

John Clem Clarke Solo Exhibitions (abbreviated list):
Kornblee Gallery(New York)
OK Harris (New York)
Deson Gallery (Chicago)
Louis K. Meisel Gallery (New York)
Betts Gallery (Santa Fe)
Wassermann Galerie (Munich)
Allentown Art Museum (Allentown, PA)

John Clem Clarke Publications (abbreviated list):
02/1990 Smith, Roberts. "John Clem Clarke--Review, The New York Times
11/1990 "John Clem Clarke" (review) Art In America
1995 Capek, Michael. Artistic Trickery, Minneapolis: Lerner Publications.
1995 Higgin, Colin. Harold et Maude, Paris: Editions Denoel, cover illustration--"Ford Splash"

John Clem Clarke Catalogues (abbreviated list):
1972 "Whitney Review 1971-72"
1989 "Image World--Art and Media Culture," Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, p. 51
1990 Binai, Paul. "The 80's: A Post Pop Generation," Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Cover Illustration
1991 "Art after Art", Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, New York pp.18-21
1998 "John Clem Clarke--Comforts, Near Disasters and Pentimenti", Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA.

John Clem Clarke digital print

John Clem Clarke "Car Towing"
Digital Print

Email Biddington's with your comments.

Sigmund Abeles Expressive Realist Painter
Nancy Azara Sculptor
Tova Beck-Friedman Sculptor & Mixed-Media Artist
Todd Bellanca Abstract Painter
Carol Bruns Bronze Figurative Sculptor
James Burnett Non-Objective Painter
Cynthia Capriata Peruvian Painter & Printmaker
Catalina Chervin Argentine Surrealist Artist
Diane Churchill Expressionist Painter
John Clem Clarke Pop Artist
Lisa Dinhofer Illusionist Painter
Tom Duncan Narrative Polychrome Sculpture
Michael Eastman Faux-Primitive Painter
Lynne Frehm New York Abstract Painter
Betsey Garand Minimalist Painter & Fine Art Printmaker
Mary Teresa Giancoli Personal Documentary Photographer
Debora Gilbert-Ryan New Image Painter
Janet Goldner African-Influenced Steel Sculpture
Harry Gordon Monumental Sculpture
Marilyn Greenberg Narrative Abstract Painter
Patricia Hansen Portrait and Still Life Painter
Richard Heinrich Welded Steel Sculpture
Charles Hewitt Painter & Monotype Printmaker
Diane Holland Intermedia Collage Artist
GH Hovagimyan Pop/Conceptual Artist
LA Hughes Pop Artist
Frances Jetter Bronze Sculptor & Editorial Illustrator
Scott Kahn Fantasy Painter
Susan Kaprov Digital Printmaker and Abstract Painter
Babette Katz Narrative Printmaker and Book Artist
Richard Mock Abstract Painter & Linocut Printmaker
Maureen Mullarkey Figure Paintings
Bill Murphy Contemporary Realist Painter
Jim Napierala Abstract Painter
Frances Pellegrini New York City & Fashion Photographer
Joseph Reeder Cross Media Artist Paintings & Ceramics
Laura Shechter Contemporary Realist Painter
Annemarie Slipper Figurative Bronzes & Ceramic Sculpture
Gary Slipper Fantasy Painter
Margaret Speer Landscape & Travel Paintings
Serena Tallarigo Marble Sculptor
Rein Triefeldt Kinetic Sculpture
Vivian Tsao Painter of Light
Nancy Van Deren Contemporary Painter
Joan Berg Victor Drawings from Nature
Edward Walsh Figurative Sculpture
Kate Wattson Contemporary Colorist Painter
Betty Winkler Organic Minimalist Painter & Printmaker


CREATIVE PROCESS at Biddington's Contemporary Art Gallery is designed as a forum for watching art in the making. Usually, this process happens in the privacy of the artist's or artisan's studio. At BIDDINGTON'S--upmarket, online art & antiques auctions & Contemporary Art Gallery--we find it interesting to witness the steps leading to the end product and to hear the artists speak about their work in the relaxed surroundings of their own studios.

PEDIGREE & PROVENANCE--Art Words & Terms    JAKE BIDDINGTON'S INVESTING--Financial Advice for Art Collectors
BIDDINGTON'S BENTLEY--Travel for the Art & Antiques Connoisseur   BIDDINGTON'S Content Index
BIDDINGTON'S--Home & Search

Biddington's Home & Search