Happy Birthday Francesco Clemente

Francesco Clemente –  Allen Ginsberg, Maturity, 1985 – watercolor on paper (recto and verso) – “Young I drank beer & vomited green bile/ Older drank wine vomited blood red/ Now I vomit air”

Francesco Clemente‘s birthday today, he turns 71 [72 in 2024]  Born in Naples, in Italy, in 1952, see our 70th birthday photo portfolio here, and from 2021, this Clemente birthday gathering.

See also here  and here – Clemente and India – and, complimentary to that, Raymond Foye‘s recording of the two of them recollecting those experiences – here

From Raymond’s richly-informative personal essay, “Clemente in the Eighties – Fragments of A Faith Forgotten“:

“From the first day I met Francesco, I felt it was imperative that he meet Allen Ginsberg. (I myself had met Allen at a Kerouac Symposium in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1973, when I was a junior in high school, and we kept in touch). The two shared a mutual love of William Blake and India as well as a tremendous respect for each other’s calling. I think Allen would have liked to have been a painter, and Francesco a poet. One evening in 1983, Henry Geldzahler and I were having dinner with Allen at Cafe Un Deux Trois on West 44th Street, and I invited Francesco and Alba (Clemente) to join us. They arrived punctually, beautifully dressed and full of anticipation, almost like students on the first day of school. Years later, I realized what an important meeting it must have been for them, given that I never saw either one arrive remotely on time for any social event ever again.

The next day, Allen stopped by Francesco’s studio on Great Jones Street and copied out a long poem, “White Shroud, which he’d recently written on a visit to China. What I was hoping would happen did happen: the illuminated manuscript was alive and well in the late twentieth century. A sequel followed in 1984, called “Black Shroud. One day, Allen arrived with nothing prepared, no plan other than to be open and observe. The work they produced, Images from Mind and Space, is my favorite of all their collaborations.

Allen Ginsberg – Francesco Clemente, Images from Mind and Space,  1983  watercolor on paper

Francesco Clemente painting Alba Clemente’s portrait, in his studio, NYC, February 22, 1996

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *