Francesco Clemente
Black-and-white photograph of an elderly man with grey-stubbled chin
Portrait by Michael Avedon, 2011
Born (1952-03-23) 23 March 1952 (age 70)
Naples, Italy
EducationArchitecture (University of Rome)
Known forPainting, drawing
Cover of Francesco Clemente Pinxit, artist's book, 1981
Cover of Francesco Clemente Pinxit, artist's book, 1981
With self-portrait, San Francisco, 1991
With self-portrait, San Francisco, 1991

Francesco Clemente (born 23 March 1952) is an Italian contemporary artist. He has lived at various times in Italy, India and New York City. Some of his work is influenced by the traditional art and culture of India.[1] He has worked in various artistic media including drawing, fresco, graphics, mosaic, oils and sculpture.[2] He was among the principal figures in the Italian Transavanguardia movement of the 1980s, which was characterised by a rejection of Formalism and conceptual art and a return to figurative art and Symbolism.[3]


Clemente was born in 1952 in Naples, in Campania in southern Italy. In 1970 he enrolled in the faculty of architecture of the Sapienza, the university of Rome, but did not complete a degree there.[3] In Rome he came into contact with contemporary artists such as Luigi Ontani and Alighiero Boetti, who had come to the city at about the same time,[4] and also with the American Cy Twombly, who lived there.[1] Boetti, who was ten years older, became both a friend and a mentor; in 1974 they visited Afghanistan together.[5] With Ontani, Clemente gave performances at the Galleria L'Attico.[6] Despite his close involvement with these artists associated with the Arte povera movement, and his interest in others such as Pino Pascali and Michelangelo Pistoletto, Clemente preferred to work on paper. He made ink drawings of dreams and recollections of his childhood, and in 1971, in his first solo show, exhibited collages at the Galleria Giulia in Rome.[1]

In 1973 Clemente made the first of many visits to India.[1] He established a studio in Madras (now Chennai),[2] and became interested in both the religious and folk traditions of India and in the traditional art and crafts of the country. In 1976 and 1977 he visited the library of the Theosophical Society of Madras to study the religious texts there.[3] In 1980 and 1981 he worked on Francesco Clemente Pinxit, a series of twenty-four gouaches on antique hand-made rag paper, in collaboration with miniature painters from Orissa and Jaipur.[1][3][7]: 88  In 1982 he moved to New York City.[8]. He lives in Greenwich Village.[9]

Paper tent at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kochi, in Kerala, India, 2014
Paper tent at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kochi, in Kerala, India, 2014


Clemente (right) with Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Bruno Bischofberger in 1984
Clemente (right) with Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Bruno Bischofberger in 1984

Clemente's work has been widely shown. His early large canvases, painted in 1981–1982, were exhibited in 1983 at the Whitechapel Gallery in London and then in Germany and Sweden.[1] In 1986 the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, mounted a travelling exhibition of his work.[3] Clemente participated in the Biennale di Venezia in 1988, 1993, 1995 and 1997; in documenta in Kassel, Germany, in 1992 and 1997; and in the Whitney Biennial, also in 1997.[2] Solo shows were held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1990;[10] at the Sezon Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo in 1994; at the Galleria d'Arte Moderna of Bologna in 1999; at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2000; at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli in Naples in 2002–2003; at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin in 2004; at Palazzo Sant'Elia in Palermo, in Sicily, in 2013; at both the Coro della Maddalena in Alba and Santa Maria della Scala in Siena in 2016; and at the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2017.[2][3]

In 1998 his work was used in the film Great Expectations, directed by Alfonso Cuarón.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f [s.n.] (2012). Clemente, Francesco. Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Accessed April 2017. (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c d Clemènte, Francesco (in Italian). Enciclopedie on line. Rome: Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana. Accessed March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Francesco Clemente. Guggenheim. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Accessed March 2017.
  4. ^ Alex Bacon (3 May 2013). Francesco Clemente in Conversation with Alex Bacon. Brooklyn Rail.
  5. ^ Francesco Clemente (2012). TateShots: Francesco Clemente on Alighiero Boetti. London: Tate. Accessed April 2017.
  6. ^ Matthew Gale ([n.d.]). Ontani, Luigi. Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Accessed April 2017. (subscription required)
  7. ^ Stella Kramrisch (1990). The Twenty-Four Indian Miniatures; in: Ann Percy, Raymond Foye (1990). Francesco Clemente: Three Worlds (exhibition catalogue). Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art. Pages 88–109. ISBN 9780847812974..
  8. ^ Kay Larson (19 November 1990). On The Line. New York. ISSN 0028-7369.
  9. ^ Kurutz, Steven. "What Do Anna Wintour and Bob Dylan Have in Common? This Secret Garden", The New York Times, 28 September 2016. Accessed 3 November 2016. "The house is part of the Macdougal-Sullivan Gardens Historic District, a landmarked community of 21 row homes, with 11 lining Macdougal Street and 10 running parallel on Sullivan Street."
  10. ^ Francesco Clemente: Three Worlds. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art. Archived 30 March 2011.

Further reading

  • Seidel, Max. Francesco Clemente: The Tarots. Hirmer Publishers. 2012. ISBN 9783777445212
  • Clemente, Francesco; Hollein, Max and Walcott, Derek. Francesco Clemente: Palimpsest. Moderne Kunst Nürnberg. 2012. ISBN 9783869842257
  • Danto, C. Artur. Francesco Clemente: The Sopranos. Charta. 2008. ISBN 9788881586981
  • Clemente, Francesco; Walcott, Derek. Francesco Clemente: Three Rainbows. Charta. 2009. ISBN 9788881587452
  • Clemente, Francesco; Danto, Arthur. Francesco Clemente: A Private Geography. Charta. 2011. ISBN 9788881587957
  • Jain, Jyotindra. Clemente: Made in India. Charta. 2011. ISBN 9788881588091
  • Ammann, Jean- Christophe; Clemente, Francesco. Francesco Clemente: Works 1971–1979. Charta. 2007. ISBN 9788881586509
  • Matthews, Harry. Singular Pleasures. Dalkey Archive Press. 1999. ISBN 9781564782335
  • Clemente, Francesco. Francesco Clemente. Charta. 2000. ISBN 9788881582822
  • Babini, Luca. Francesco Clemente: Art and Life. Aperture Foundation. 1999. ISBN 9780893818722
  • Rushdie, Salman. Francesco Clemente: Self Portraits. Gagosian Gallery. 2005. ISBN 9781932598247
  • Clemente, Francesco. Polaroids, Celebrities and Self-Portraits. Jablonka Galerie. 2001. ISBN 9788391307526
  • Fahey, David; Clemente, Francesco. Sante D'Orazio: A Private View. Prestel Publishing. 2006. ISBN 9783829602471
  • Clemente, Francesco. India. Twelvetrees Press. 1989. ISBN 9780942642308
  • Rimanelli, David. Francesco Clemente Paintings 2000–2003. Gagosian Gallery. 2003. ISBN 9781880154946
  • Clemente, Francesco. Francesco Clemte: Fifty One Days at Mount Abu. D'Offay, Anthony Gallery. 1999. ISBN 9780947564773
  • Fischl, Eric; Ammann, Jean-Christophe; Young, Geoffrey; Clemente, Francesco. Eric Fischl: It's Where I look...It's How I See... Their World, My World, The World. Mary Boone Gallery/ Jablonka Gallery. 2009. ISBN 9783931354329
  • Auping, Michael. Francesco Clemente. Abrams, Harry N., Inc. 1985. ISBN 9780810907720
  • Colombo, Paulo. Francesco Clemente. Electa. 2006. ISBN 9788837043469
  • Avedon, Elizabeth. Francesco Clemente. Knopf Publishing Group. 1987. ISBN 9780394747873
  • Katz, Vincent. Life Is Paradise: The Portraits of Francesco Clemente. Powerhouse Books. 1999. ISBN 9781576870532
  • McLure, Michael. Francesco Clemente Testa Coda. Rizzoli. 1992. ISBN 9780847814695
  • Percy, Ann. Francesco Clemente: Three Worlds. Rizzoli. 1990. ISBN 9780847812974
  • Percy, Ann. Francesco Clemente: Three Worlosi. Philadelphia Museum of Art. 1998. ISBN 9780876330845
  • Warner, Marina. Francesco Clemente: The Book of the Sea. Gagosian Gallery. 2002. ISBN 9781880154779
  • Shapiro, David. Francesco Clemente. Parkett Verlag AG. 1986. ISBN 9783907509593
  • Valli, Giambattista. Giambattista Valli. Rizzoli. 16 October 2012. ISBN 9780847835713
  • Denninson, Lisa. Clemente: A Retrospective. Abrams, Harry N., Inc. 1999. ISBN 9780810969179
  • Crone, Rainer. Francesco Clemente: Pastelle 1972–1983 Prestel Verlag GmbH & Co KG. 1984.ISBN 9783791306421
  • Eccher, Danilo. Francesco Clemente. Allemandi, Umberto & Company. 1999. ISBN 9788842209171
  • Walcott, Derek. A Conversion, exhibition catalogue. Deitch Projects, New York, Edizioni Charta, Milano 2009.
  • Rushdie, Salman. Being Francesco Clemente, in: Francesco Clemente: Self Portraits, exhibition catalogue. New York: Gagosian Gallery, 2006. Pages 5–10.
  • Kort, Pamela. Francesco Clemente in Conversation with Pamela Kort, New York, 26 March 2011; in: Francesco Clemente, Palimpsest, exhibition catalogue. Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 2011.