Francesco Clemente
Artist / Painter

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

Clemente’s work spans four decades. His work is stylistically varied, embracing different mediums and cultures In the 1970s he moved from photography to drawing and anticipated the return to painting of the 1980s.

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 erotic imagery, inspired by the Tantra traditions both of India and Tibet. In the 2000s Clemente underwent a darker and grotesque phase, returning in recent years to images of repose and transformation.

Since the 1980s until today, Clemente has also chronicled New York intellectual and social life through portraits.

Francesco Clemente is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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