Valerio Adami Biography

Valerio Adami




Painter and printmaker Valerio Adami was born in Bologna, Italy, on March 17, 1935. At the age of ten he began taking painting lessons under the tutelage of Felice Carena during summer family trips to Venice, and at sixteen he was accepted into the Accademia de Brera, Milan. There, he studied drawing and printmaking under Achille Funi and others. After graduation in 1955 he traveled to Paris, where he met artists Roberto Matta and Wifredo Lam, both of whom would remain creative influences over Adami throughout his career.

By now the young artist's style was greatly partial to the Abstract Expressionist genre, at its peak in the mid 1950s. He held his first major solo exhibition in Milan at the Galleria Del Naviglio in 1959 and began to divide his time between Italy, London, and Paris, interspersed with international travel. In 1962 he settled in Arona at Lago Maggiore with his wife, painter Camilla della Rovere, and in 1964 he held his second major exhibition in Kassel, Germany. By the late 1960s his work was evolving into the stylized, French cloissonism-inspired compositions he would become known for, using large color fields bordered by thick, black outlines. He would become linked to the Pop Art scene, though his work was often identified by critics as a Narrative Figuration, a label he rejected. He began to incorprate political themes into his work in the 1970s, and began focusing on new mediums: color lithography, working with Maeght Gallery on various projects; and in film making when, in 1971, Adami and his brother, Giancarlo, directed and produced the film Vacances dans le Desert (Holidays in the desert).

Adami then moved to Bavaria in 1974, where he published the book Das Reich together with Helmut Heisenbüttel and created a poster for philosopher Jaques Derrida. He continued to exhibit internationally to great acclaim, leading to carious large-scale commissions throughout the 1980s: a sculptural ceramic wall for the Nouvelle École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Cercy Pontoise; stained glass windows for the Vitry city hall; a fresco for the foyer of the Theater du Chatelet, and more. In 1986 the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris showed a retrospective of Valerio Adami's oeuvre.

In 1997 Adami established the European Drawing Foundation with Jaques Derrida and Carlos Fuentes. He was awarded the Do Forni International Graphic Art Prize in Venice in 2009, and in 2010 he was given a large retrospective at the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Florida. In 2019 an exhibition of his paintings was held at the Galerie Daniel Templon in Paris. He continues to work and live in Paris and Lake Maggiore.