Life is Paradise gathers for the first time a mostly private collection of contemporary artist Francesco Clementes rarely seen oil, pastel, and watercolor portraits of personalities from the worlds of pop culture, high society, and art. The revealing depictions of friends and acquaintances who have passed through Clemente’s studio include the likes of Lauren Hutton, Henry Geldzhaler, Toni Morrison, Bryan Ferry, Robert Mapplethorpe, William Burroughs, Fab 5 Freddy, Robert DeNiro, Fran Lebowitz, Gus Van Sant, Edit De Ak, John Ashbery, Andy Warhol, the Baronesa Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, Enzo Cucchi, Christy Turlington, Rene Ricard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Allen Ginsberg, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Michael McClure and many, many more.
Interspersed amongst this ravishing collection of surprising portraits are several of Clementes more well known self-portraits, in various mediums, which have become signature pieces for the artist. But its the compelling portraitures of a widely divergent circle–artists, writers, film actors, fashion industry icons, business and society headliners, done by Clemente for amusement or for special commissions–that offer a fascinating insight into another side of Francesco Clemente: the internationally famous artist who for years has been a fixture on the New York scene.
For almost two decades, Clemente has divided his time between New York, Italy, and Madras, India, and his art readily acknowledges the influence of these cultures. Clemente is widely considered one of the foremost contemporary artists in America, and his work is celebrated in art collections all over the world. The portraits in Life is Paradise span Clementes entire career as a visual artist, and showcase his versatility with various mediums. This collection gathers together and examines for the first time in detail a little known element of Clemente’s oeuvre.