Francesco Clemente  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Francesco Clemente (born in Naples, 23 March 1952) is an Italian painter.

His work shows both surrealist and expressionist references. He was self taught and studied architecture in 1970 at the University of Rome. He did some paintings in collaboration with Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat in the 1980s. Since 1982, he has spent his time between Italy, New York City and Madras (now Chennai) in India, where he collaborates with local artists. In 1986, he created the Hanuman Books series with Raymond Foye which is a collection of 48 miniature handmade books featuring American and European poets and philosophers, edited by George Scrivani and printed in Madras. Clemente is a member of American Academy of Arts and Letters. He still regularly works in India and lives in New York with his wife Alba and their four children.


Career: four decades


After an early academic background in classical languages and literature, Clemente briefly enrolled as an architectural student at the University of Rome (in 1970). Through out the 1970s he exhibited drawings, altered photographs and conceptual works, mostly in Turin, Amsterdam and Cologne. He first travelled to India in 1973 and the following year trekked through Afghanistan with mentor and fellow artistic Alighiero Boetti. Clemente returned to India with his wife Alba in 1977, and for a period of two years lived and worked in Madras, where he made drawings, pastels and hand-made books. In 1980, Clemente's work was included in the Venice Biennale.


In 1981, he settled permanently in New York City. During the decade of the 1980s Clemente was featured in shows at numerous international venues including the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1983; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1984 ; the Nationale galerie, Berlin, 1984; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1985 ; the Art Institute of Chicago, 1987 ; the Fundacion Caja, 1987; and the Dia Center for the Arts, New York, 1988.


Through the 1990s, surveys of Clemente's work were exhibited by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Royal Academy of Arts, London, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and the Sezon Museum, Tokyo. He also provided paintings for the 1998 film of Great Expectations starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke.

2000 and after

In 1999/2000, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York organized a major retrospective of Clemente’s work. He has participated in numerous collaborative projects, painting with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol and illuminating poetry by Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, John Wieners, Harry Matthews, and René Ricard. With reference to recent pop culture, Francesco Clemente did the paintings that are seen in the film Great Expectations. In November 2007, Clemente on a panel at the Global Creative Leadership Summit planned by the Louise T Blouin Foundation where, when questioned about how art can better science, he claimed {{cquote|If I have to be honest, I have to bring bad news. The bad news is that I believe that an artist is an artist because he chooses not to tamper with reality; he chooses not to better reality. The creative mind comes at a price, so ultimately, an artist makes an ethical choice—he deals not so much with the world of ideas, but with the world of forms. And the world of forms does not make deals.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Francesco Clemente" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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