Francesco Clemente, the only son of Judge Marchese Lorenzo Clemente di San Luca and his wife, Bianca Quarto, was born into a conservative family in Naples on March 23, 1952. He attended a high school for the humanities, and focussed on Latin, Greek, and Italian literature, along with classic and modern philosophic themes. After graduating in 1970, he began studying architecture in Rome that same year. There, in the following year, the Galleria Valle Giulia featured his conceptual collages with photographs in a solo show, even though he had never formally studied art.


 As a child, Clemente had traveled a great deal with his parents. In 1973 he and his mentor, Alighiero Boetti, went to Afghanistan. Later, Clemente began traveling regularly to India, where he set up a studio in Madras in 1978. He studied Hinduism, worked with handmade paper, paints, and the fabrics of South India, and also employed local artists as his assistants. His watercolors, pastels, monotypes, and prints feature abstract symbols, hieroglyphics, and body-oriented motifs on the themes of sexuality and death. Along with Sandro Chia, Enzo Cucchi, Nicola de Maria, and Mimmo Paladino, Clemente is one of the representatives of what Achille Bonita Oliva called the Transavanguardia.


An important theme in Clemente's art remains the observation of the self, in the process of which he always maintains a spatial and psychological distance to his body and the bodies of those he depicts. He is interested in the transitions from one person to the next, and the way that a mood can suddenly change to its exact opposite. His interest in sixteenth-century classic Italian painting led him to begin painting frescoes in 1980. He also began making miniatures and mosaics. Clemente finds his themes in art history, the cinema, and television, and he has always had a love for literature. He has participated in the Venice Biennials of 1980, 1988, 1993, and 1997. In 1980, Bischofberger bought Clemente's Autoritratto come un giardino (Self-Portrait as a Garden), from the Basel Kunsthalle exhibition, 7 Junge Künstler aus Italien (7 Young Italian Artists). That same year, the artist had his first show in New York, and began working there more and more, so that he finally acquired a studio there in 1981. In 1983 he and his family moved to New York. Clemente, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat began working on the Collaborations in 1984. He has also collaborated several times with writers Allan Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Robert Creeley, John Wieners, and others.




Francesco Clemente: Works 1987-2018, The Brant Foundation, Connecticut



Francesco Clemente: Black Light, Centre de Cultura Contemporania, Barcelona



Francesco Clemente: Standing with Truth, Villa Rufolo, Ravello



Francesco Clemente, NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderale



Francesco Clemente: Inspired by India, Rubin Museum of Art, New York (2014-2015)



Francesco Clemente: Two Tents, Mary Boone Gallery, New York



Francesco Clemente, Palazzo Sant'Elia, Palermo 



Francesco Clemente,  Mary Boone Gallery, New York  



Francesco Clemente: The Tarots, Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Francesco Clemente: Palimpsest, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt

Francesco Clemente: Captive Pleasures, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich (2010-2011)



Francesco Clemente: Shipwreck with the Spectator 1974-2004, MADRE Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples



Francesco Clemente: Drawings, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich



Francesco Clemente, MAXXI Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo, Rome



Francesco Clemente: Self Portraits, Gagosian Gallery, London



Francesco Clemente, Jablonka Galerie, Cologne



Francesco Clemente: New Works, Irish Museum of Modern Art; traveling to Dublin and Reykjavik Art Museum, Island 

Francesco Clemente: Remembered by Heart, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich

Francesco Clemente: Tandoori Satori and Commonplace, The Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts



Francesco Clemente: Paintings 2000-2003, Gagosian Gallery Beverly Hills and New York



Francesco Clemente: Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples

Clemente in Taos, The Harwood Museum of Art, The University of New Mexico, Taos

Francesco Clemente: The Book of the Sea, Gagosian Gallery,  London



Terra Fragile, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich

 Francesco Clemente: Palladium, Museo Civico d'Arte Contemporanea, Trento; traveling to Neue Galerie im Höhmann Haus, Augsburg (2000-2001)



New Works, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich (1999-2000)

Francesco Clemente – Retrospective, Guggenheim Museum New York, New York; traveling to Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Bilbao



Francesco Clemente: Three New Paintings, Gagosian Gallery, New York



Portraits, Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

Indian Watercolours, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; traveling to Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; Modern Art Museum, Indianapolis

Francesco Clemente: Anamorphosis, Gagosian Gallery, New York



Francesco Clemente: Paintings of the Gate, Galerie Bischofberger, Zurich

Francesco Clemente: New Works, Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles



Ex Libris, Château de Chenonceau, Chenonceaux

Mothers of Hope, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt/M



Francesco Clemente: Tree of Life, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zürich

 Francesco Clemente: Two Horizons, Sezon Museum of Art, Tokyo

 Francesco Clemente: Early Morning Exercises; Works on paper 1971-1994, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris    

 Francesco Clemente: Purgatorio, Gagosian Gallery, New York        



Francesco Clemente: The Black Paintings, Gagosian Gallery, New York



The Black Paintings, Gagosian Gallery, New York



War Usury Pestilence Death, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich



The Black Book, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel

Bestarium, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt/M

Testa Coda, Gagosian Gallery, New York; traveling to Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel, Basel; Kunstverein Ulm, Ulm

Francesco Clemente: Three Worlds, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; traveling to Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford/Connecticut; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Royal Academy of Arts London, London (1990-1991)



The Gold Paintings, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich       



Funerary Paintings, Dia Art Foundation, New York



Affreschi: Pinturas al fresco, La Fundacion Caja de Pensiones, Madrid         

Works on Paper from 1977-1979, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich

The Argentario Paintings, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago                                 

Funerary Paintings, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich        



Departure of the Argonaut, Museum of Modern Art, New York



Francesco Clemente, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota; traveling to Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museum of Art, Dallas; University Art Museum, Berkley; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles



Prints 1981-1985, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Il viaggiatore napoletano. 73 Zeichnungen von 1971-1978, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel 

Francesco Clemente: Selbstportraits, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich



Currents, ICA, Boston

Pastelle. Francesco Clemente, Nationalgalerie, Berlin; traveling to Museum Folkwang, Essen; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Kunsthalle Tübingen, Tuebingen



The Fourteen Stations, The Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; traveling to Groninger Museum, Groningen; Galerie des Musées, Nice; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe; Moderna Museet, Stockholm



Watercolours, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich



Francesco Clemente: Matrix 46, University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley 

Centric I: Francesco Clemente, The Art Museum and Galleries, California State University, Long Beach

Francesco Clemente: Matrix 70, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut


 New Works, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich



Francesco Clemente, Padigilone d'Arte Contemporaniea, Milan