CLARK, Tony; Putto David
Tony Clark based Putto David on a sketch by Raphael of Michelangelo's famous sculpture, David 1501-04. The practice of sketching from the works of other artists was an integral part of an art student's training up until the twentieth century. Clark twists this around, however, to evoke the contemporary phenomenon in which the constant repetition of images rendered a person, object or event immediately familiar. Clark is fascinated with the way something like Michelangelo's David can be knowable in this way, even though most people might never have seen it in person. Like most people's encounter of the work, Clark's interpretation of David is second-hand.
Clark has brought together these historic and contemporary phenomena by basing Putto David on Raphael's sketch, which wouldn't have been an exhibition work in itself, based on what is now known as one of Michelangelo's most important sculptures. A major work by Michelangelo becomes a minor work by Raphael, and in turn becomes a major work by Tony Clark. Clark designates it as a putto, a 'little man', recalling the eighteenth-century taste for giving sophisticated and substantial works an artfully diminished title, such as Mozart's well-known serenade, Eine kleine nacht musik ('A little night music'), falsely describing it as 'little'.