CLARA ZEVI is wearing the Romy no.006. She is the co-founder of ARTISTS SUPPORT and an art history researcher living in Rome, Italy.
What is a rule that should never be broken?
Help old ladies cross the road.
Do you have a soundtrack to your life?
Avril Lavigne in the morning, Schubert while I work, Sean Paul or Beyonce after 9. I’m a simple gal.
What should we be reading?
You choose but I’m reading Elena Ferrante. I know I’m way late in the game. It’s worth it for some of the characters’ names. There’s Gigliola Spagnuolo, the pastry maker’s daughter and Giuseppina Peluso, Marcello Solara, Pinuccia Caracci, Donato Sarratore…
Where would you find your Doppelgänger?
The little boys in Caravaggio paintings - dark eyes and round rosy cheeks.
What was your last download?
A YouTube video of Kara Walker talking about her work Fons Americanus that was installed at the Tate Britain last year. I’m adding it to the syllabus I’m helping put together for incarcerated students at Rikers island. Kara Walker is so eloquent and her art is a much-needed push to make us (wo)man-up and face our brutal past.
What takes you to cloud 9?
I bought a tulip bulb in the flower market in Amsterdam in December that grew to the height of two De Cecco spaghetti packets one on top of the other. Sticking with the Dutch theme, being on the top floor of the Rijksmuseum at 4:45pm as the guards start kicking people out and you have Vermeer and Rembrandt all to yourself-cloud 9, baby!!!
What is good design?
Gloves attached by a string that you slide into a coat. I don’t understand why only kids get them.
Where do you find good design?
In medieval illuminated manuscripts, particularly in the margins and borders. Medieval artists came up with the most inventive patterns and designs to surround the (usually) minuscule paintings in prayer/holy books. Sometimes the borders are pretty simple and just look like ornate, gothic frames. Some (mostly French) artists started to draw borders that looked like the facades of the cathedrals that were going up all over Europe. But my favorite designs are the totally absurd ones. In one prayer book, at the bottom of the page there’s a drawing of two rabbits walking on their hind legs leading a prisoner into his cell. In another, a monk is exposing his derriere to a praying nun. Art/design doesn’t always have to take itself seriously :)
What does your house smell like?
Often like burnt toast. I confuse well-toasted with over-toasted.
What does your house sound like?
My neighbors - their yappy dog and scheduled hanky panky (once a week, on Sunday).
What is dear to your heart?
My family. Blood and chosen.
What do you find most exciting in contemporary culture?
Being able to see things on my computer. Getting access to libraries this last year has been difficult (duh) but it's amazing to me how much has been scanned and archived. God bless the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Met - so much material perfectly photographed and labelled.
What thoughts occupy you currently?
Is it bad to eat cheese at every meal?
What was the first piece of cultural work that really mattered to you?
Pingu, then Titian.
The last work that mattered to me is a large hanging almanac by a young artist that my sister Alma introduced me to. He’s called Simone Carraro and he just graduated from the art school in Venice. Simone uses a lot of folklore and medieval imagery in his work. He's interested in the Venetian lagoon—its history, structure and what it gives/takes from the city. For the calendar he painted a local custom/natural phenomenon for each month, for example the pesce go which are eaten in March and two cultish witches for October.
What do you still wish to learn?
How to predict what’s going to happen in a thriller.
What is still a mystery?
How it took until the early 15th-century for artists to work out correct linear perspective. Somebody pointed this out to me last year and when you think about it, it is amazing to think that it took us that long to get it right.
I am also confused by boys that eat burgers all day and don’t get fat. And people with unadulterated straight teeth.
Where is happiness found?
What do you see outside your window?
In NY, primary school kids playing tag in the playground. They make nice chalk drawings too, which I can see from my bedroom window. In Rome, cobalt blue skies and the man in the window across from me who smokes a cigarette shirtless every morning.
What do you find humorous?
The stories that children come up with.
What are you working on at the moment?
I started a non-profit a few months ago with my friend/artist Oscar Tiné. We asked eight NY-based artists to donate works to benefit local charities of their choice. Lorna Simpson made a collage to support Until Freedom, an incredible social justice organization that advocates and works to address systematic and racial injustice. Stephen Shore‘s photo of an NY diner will benefit in-need students in the photography program at Bard College. Hiroshi Sugimoto, Louise Lawler, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Rachel Rose, Kembra Pfahler and Pamela Hanson are also all participating in our initiative. They each selected a local charity dear to them and showed incredible generosity by donating works to benefit these great NY causes.
Oscar and I started working on ARTISTS SUPPORT when Covid hit and we wanted to help our city. We wanted to do something 100% charitable and we are so lucky that some of our heroes wanted to take part. Our NY sale closes next month and we're bringing the project to London and LA next.