Fabrizio Clerici

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Fabrizio Clerici (15 May 1913 – 7 June 1993) was an Italian painter.


Clerici was a complex and eclectic artist and was also architect, costume designer, scenographer and photographer. His works were exhibited in many museums in the United States such as the MoMA or the Guggenheim Museum and in France such as the Centre Pompidou.

His most renown works are Il Minotauro accusa pubblicamente sua madre, Sonno romano (1955); Le Confessioni palermitane (1954); Minerva phlegraea (1956–57); Le Krak des Chevaliers (1968).

In 1920 Clerici moves to Rome, he studies at the Architecture School, and obtains his diploma in 1937. The Roman monuments, architecture and paintings from the Rinascimento and the baroque period influence him a lot, as well as certain religious works due to their spectacular aspect. Later, Sonno romano (1955) would restitute those memories. In Rome he attends conferences by Le Corbusier and in 1936 he becomes friend of Alberto Savinio. Both artists were admiring each other.[1] In 1938, in Milan, he meets Giorgio de Chirico. At the end of the 1930s he makes his first fantastic paintings, based on the memory of events, locations, persons that are transformed by the filter of the time and could be seen as the products of dreams. Since his optic is a reconstruction of images, Clerici evolves naturally towards surrealism. However the actual motive of Clerici remains metaphysics. Upon his return to Rome after the second war he considers closely the scientific studies of Athanasius Kircher, Erhard Schön and of Padre Jean-Francois Niceron. In 1944 he writes an article in the review Quadrante in which he describes the meeting he had with Leonor Fini. In January 1945 he and Savinio participate to a collective exhibition. In 1947 he cooperates with Lucio Fontana in the project Patio per una casa al mare, for Handicraft Development, Inc. in New York. Until 1948, Clerici continues to produce drawings and incision works; in 1949 he produces paintings of vast composition in which architecture plays the major harmonic component. Later he starts traveling in the Middle East, (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Libya) as well as Turkey. From those travels Clerici develops two themes: the "mirages" and the "temples of the egg", cycles of constructions set in the desert and spiralling around a centre containing the original egg.

In parallel to his paintings, that become more and more fantastic and magic, he works for theatre. Back from Egypt he creates the sets of La vedova scaltra by Carlo Goldoni under the direction of Giorgio Strehler. Before that he had produced the sets of a number of ballets and lyric works, always in connection with the theme of the fantastic world.

He then made the sets and costumes for Orpheus ob Igor Stravinskij, presented at the La Fenice Theater in Venice in 1948; for Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell and for The Rape of Lucretia by Benjamin Britten, both at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma and directed by Alberto Lattuada (1949); for Armide by Jean-Baptiste Lully (1950); for the comic opera Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini, directed by Peter Ustinov at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden (1962); for Ali Baba by Luigi Cherubini, at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

During two years he participates to the realisation of the big stained glass window La fede di Santa Caterina for the Basilica of San Domenico in Siena (1957).

In 1964 he starts a series of tables for Orlando furioso of Ludovico Ariosto In 1968, on the occasion of the Berliner Festwochen he participates to two exhibitions on painting and scenography in the Galerie des XX Jahrhunderts and the Rathauses Tempelhof.

In 1970 he realises for the Propyläen Verlag Berlin an edition of The Travels of Marco Polo (Il Milione) of Marco Polo, with tables and original lythographies. These drawings would be exhibited with other paintings at the Galerie Brusberg in Hannover (1971). In 1974-75 he paints a cycle around the theme Isle of the Dead of Arnold Böcklin.

In 1977 he makes a series of lithography for an edition of Le bestiaire by Guillaume Apollinaire. during the same year three important retrospective exhibitions are dedicated to Clerici at the Museum of Occidental Art in Kiev, the Fine Arts Museum in Almaty and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. In the 1970s in produces works on Egyptian inspiration and entitled Variazioni tebane. In 1980–1981 he realises a cycle of paintings around the theme of violence entitled I corpi di Orvieto. At the same time he works on a series of large tables in colour entitled Le impalcature della Sistina.

In 1983 an exhibition is dedicated to him at the Palazzo dei Diamanti in FerraraIn 1984, he visits Samarkand and Bukhara. In 1987 a retrospective exhibition is dedicated to him at the Reggia di Caserta, with a catalogue edited by Franco Maria Ricci.

After his death the Archivio "Fabrizio Clerici" has been created.


  • Giuseppe Bergamini, Giancarlo Pauletto. Fabrizio Clerici: opere 1938–1990. Pordenone: Centro Iniziative Culturali, Collana Protagonisti, 2006, 128 pp. ISBN 88-8426-023-X
  • Raffaele Carrieri. Fabrizio Clerici. Milan: Electra Editrice, 1955.
  • Marcel Brion. Fabrizio Clerici. Milan: Electra Editrice, 1955, 122 pp.
  • Sergio Troisi (ed.). Fabrizio Clerici. Opere 1937–1992. Catalogo della mostra (Marsala, 7 luglio-28 ottobre 2007). Palermo: Sellerio Editore, 2007, 207 pp., ISBN 88-768-1164-8


  1. ^ Savinio, Ascolto il tuo cuore città (1944)

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