A Vienna museum surveys the career of the 1980s art star.
In the early 1980s, New York’s brash downtown art scene got a bit more elegant with the arrival of Francesco Clemente, an Italian painter and graphic artist known for his vivid yet ethereal treatments of the human figure. Barely 30, Mr. Clemente settled down with his young family in a loft on lower Broadway and soon became a leader in the art world’s turn away from conceptual art and minimalism, helping to usher in a figurative movement that just about everyone, other than Mr. Clemente himself, likes to call Neo-Expressionism.
Today Mr. Clemente, 70, is still going strong, while many of his friends and collaborators of the period are gone. On July 27, Vienna’s Albertina Museum will open “Francisco Clemente,” a career survey that includes 78 of the artist’s works, from a 1979 self-portrait to a 21st-century take on traditional tarot cards.
Long known for its world-class collection of drawings and prints, the Albertina has undergone a radical transformation over the last few decades, adding paintings on canvas and other media and opening a new building, the Albertina Modern, in 2020. Mr. Clemente, whose show is installed in the original 18th-century palace, arguably fits into both the old and new versions of the museum. “A master of paper,” as guest curator Rafael Jablonka calls him, Mr. Clemente is known for his pastel, gouache and watercolor works, some of which use multiple sheets to reach giant dimensions, as well as his oil paintings.