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Francesco Clemente

(1952 - -)

Italian Neo-Expressionist artist Francesco Clemente, is one of the most recognized contemporary artists in America today. His belief that the artist must be "faithful to the spirit, to feeling" is reflected in the wide variety of media he has worked with throughout his career, from paintings, drawings and printmaking, to frescoes and mosaics.

Francesco Clemente was born on March 23, 1952, in Naples into a family with aristocratic roots. In 1970, he traveled to Italy to study architecture at the University of Rome. A friendship with artist Alighiero Boetti brought him into the Roman avant-garde art circles that eventually influenced his decision to drop out of the architecture program and pursue a passion for painting. His first solo exhibition was at the Galleria Valle Giulia in Rome in 1971.

An interest in Hindu spiritual life and culture inspired the artist to open a studio in Madras, India, in 1974. During that year, Francesco Clemente met and married Alba Primiceri, a theater actor who became a frequent subject of his art. India's culture influenced him profoundly. He felt a certain freedom there that allowed him to work simultaneously with different subject matter and media. When he returned to India three years later, he brought his wife along and for two years he created hand-made books and pictures.

During the 1970’s, he returned to a figurative style of painting as he continued to focus on the human form, his self-image, sexuality, spirituality and dreamlike visions. His art was unique in that he diversified his imagery to include a web of styles and cultures inspired by his adventures to India, Italy, the U.S and the Caribbean.

The artist’s participation in the 1980 Venice Biennale brought him international acclaim that contributed to the international revival of Expressionism. Clemente published several books during this time, including three of which he collaborated on with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

In 1981, Clemente settled permanently in New York and began to create his first large-scale oils, a series of twelve paintings titled ‘The Fourteen Stations’, exhibited at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London in 1983. He spent some time collaborating on some paintings with other artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol.

An avid traveler, Francesco Clemente continues to visit India and Italy regularly with his wife and their four children, and interprets the world’s cultures and traditions into his art.

Movements associated with Francesco Clemente:
Abstract, Frescos, Italian artists


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