Valerio Adami
Blam, 1962
Oil on canvas
177 x 140 cm
About Recognised as one of the greatest Italian artists of the postwar period, Valerio Adami was initially influenced by the expressionist painting of Oskar Kokoschka and Francis Bacon. He also drew on the visual culture of American pop art and at first he shared with Matta and Magnelli the destruction of forms and the fundamental relationship between painting and drawing; later, with de Chirico, a vision both dreamlike and absolute, with elements taken from various eras and an unsettling nostalgia for neoclassicism and myth. Adami follows a virtuous process, first through the drawing and then the painting, in which associations of ideas, classical myths, references to literature, music and film, and distant memories of personal experience converge.

Valerio Adami was born in Bologna in 1935. He studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan. In 1952, during the “Salon de Mai” contemporary art exhibition, he met painters Matta and Wilfredo Lam, who became his closest friends in Paris in 1955. In 1958, Adami spent time in London, frequenting artists such as Richard Hamilton and Francis Bacon; after 1961 he divided his time between Milan, London and Paris. During the Sixties he became one of the leading representatives of the neo-figurative art movement and took part in Paris in the Figuration narrative contemporaine dans l’art (1965), Bande dessinée et narrative figuration (1967), and a retrospective at the ARC in 1970. He soon gained an international reputation and exhibited at Documenta 3 in Kassel (1964), the Schwarz Gallery and Studio Marconi in Milan (1965), the Venice Biennial (1968), and the Museo de Bellas Artes Caracas (1969).

Adami’s work from the late Sixties is characterised by scenes of sad or anonymous urban places, inspired by the photos from his visit to New York in 1966. During the Seventies he began a new method of figurative organisation and association. Following the “banality of interiors” came referential yet enigmatic painting that combined letters and phrases. In his New York studio in 1978, Adami made a series of paintings on mythological subjects which are full of references to ancient painting. He created large scale frescoes for the First National Bank of Madison in Wisconsin (1974), the main hall of Austerlitz station in Paris (1987), and on the façade of the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris (1989).
While living in Paris and Italy he spent many months in Ostend, Belgium (1969), New York (from 1971), Mexico and Los Angeles (1975) Monte Carlo (where he settled in 1981), and Meina in Italy.
He also took a number of long trips: Mexico (1969, 1981), India (1977, 1982) and Northern Europe (1988).

Adami’s work has led to many comments from philosophers (Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard and Gilles Deleuze), art historians (Hubert Damisch and Marc Le Bot) and writers (Italo Calvino, Octavio Paz and Antonio Tabucchi). Adami himself has published many writings since 1986, among them Les règles du montage: Sinopie (1989) and Dessiner: les gommes et les crayons (2002).

His most important exhibitions have been held at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (1979), Centre Pompidou, Paris (1985), Palazzo Reale, Milan (1985), Centre Julio González, Valencia (1990), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (1991), Magazzini del Sale, Siena (1994), Museum of Bochum (1996), Frissiras Museum Athens (2004), and Grand Palais, Paris (2008). Some of the most recent exhibitions have been displayed at the following venues: Fondazione Marconi (2009), Milan, Pinacoteca Comunale Casa Rusca, Locarno (2010), Galleria Tega, Milan (2012), MAMAC, Nice (2013), Museo della Città di Ravenna (2013).
A major retrospective of his work was held in 2015 to mark his 80th birthday, travelling from Turin to Mantua then Perpignan and in 2016 the Secession’s Grafisches Kabinett in Vienna hosted the artist’s first solo show in Austria.
Valerio Adami lives and works in Paris, Monte Carlo and Meina on Lake Maggiore.