Francesco Clemente (1952)

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There is no larger Modern Art Museum in the world that has no Clemente in its collection. From Amsterdam to New York the works by Clemente have spread all over the world. But for us in the Netherlands, it was important that Clemente had some exhibitions with the Art & Project gallery and from one of these exhibitions a beautiful little book was the publication result edition of only 800 copies). This and other Clemente books are available at www.ftn-books.com.

Clemente’s work spans four decades. His work is stylistically varied, inclusive, erotic, and nomadic. It embraces diverse mediums and diverse cultures as well, aiming at finding wholeness through fragmentation and witnessing the survival of contemplation and pleasure in our mechanical age.

Clemente’s work is rooted in political utopia and expresses an anti-materialistic stance. In the 1970s he moved from photography to drawing and anticipated the return to painting of the 1980s.

His work is also nomadic. In the 1980s he divided his time between India and New York. While briefly associated with Neo-Expressionism he took an interest in collaborative works both with Indian craftsmen and with painters like Basquiat and Warhol, and poets like Robert Creeley and Ginsberg in New York. In an interview with The Brooklyn Rail, Clemente commented “these poets had been looking at the East for inspiration and I was also anxious to evade the materialism of the West.”

In the 1990s Clemente explored intensely erotic imagery, inspired by the Tantra traditions both of India and Tibet, and turning contemporary preoccupations with identity and sexuality into an occasion to ask questions about the nature of the self. In the 2000s Clemente underwent a darker and grotesque phase, returning in recent years to luminous images of repose and transformation.

Since the 1980s until today, Clemente has also chronicled New York intellectual and social life through a great number of portraits, contributing to the revival of a genre until then somehow discredited.

Clemente’s art has been presented in solo and group shows internationally. Major retrospectives have been held in the 1990s at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, at The Royal Academy in London, at the Centre Pompidou, Paris and at the Sezon Museum of Art, Tokyo. Clemente’s art was also featured in 1999-2000 at the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, and at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao. In the 2000s retrospectives were held at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, at the Museo MADRE, Naples and at the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt. An exhibition of self-portraits and of Clemente’s own version of the Tarot Cards was held at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence in 2011. (the text and information above comes from Wikipedia).

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