Valerio Adami (Italian, b.1935) is a painter associated with the Pop Art movement and best known for depicting historical, mythological, and Surrealist scenes using stylized outlines and flat planes of color. Born in Bologna, he studied drawing at the Accademia di Brera before moving to Paris in 1955. Adami’s early work focuses on the ruins of buildings devastated by war, and his style was inspired by Expressionism and French Cloissonism, which enclosed flat planes of color in black outlines. In the 1970s, Adami began to include in his work imagery from politics, literature, music, and mythology. Several paintings depict a stylized representation of Sigmund Freud, such as his Sigmund Freud in Viaggio Verso Londra (1973), which is composed of rectangular planes of color. Although many of his paintings allude to European culture, Adami also produced paintings of seedy public locations, such as his Hotel Chelsea Bathroom (1968). Several well-known writers and philosophers have written about his work, including Jacques Derrida, Italo Calvino, and Octavio Paz. Adami’s work is held in several museum collections, including the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Museo d’Arte Moderna in Rome, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He lives and works in London and Paris.

Timeline

1935
Valerio Adami was born on the 17th March in Italy. His first drawings in Milan were of ruins; the bombing raids and skies lit up by incendiary flares had left an enduring impression in his early years.
1952
Makes his first trip to Paris where he meets Matta and Wilfredo Lam who become life-long friends.
1946–1955
Attends the Leo XIII Jesuit College in Milan. Begins painting at the studio of Felice Carena in Venice. Meets Ezra Pound and Oscar Kokoschka. Academy of Brera in Milan for 5 years.
1956
Makes his first trip to London, where he meets Francis Bacon and William Scott.
1961
Participates at the Italian Artists Exhibition at the Jewish Museum of New York.
1962
Roland Penrose invites him to exhibit at the ICA in London. Marries Camilla. Meets regularly with Jim Dine and Richard Hamilton.
1964
Invited to show his work at the Documenta III in Kassel.
1966
Spends his winter in New York, taking up residence at the Chelsea Hotel. Hosted by Cuba, spends 3 months in Havana.
1968
The Venice Biennale dedicates a room to his work. The catalogue includes a text by his friend Carlos Fuentes, Líneas para Adami. Features in Dada Surrealism and their Heritage at the MOMA in New York.
1969
Stays in Caracas for a major one-man show at the Museo de Bellas Artes. Befriends Octavio Paz in Mexico City.
1970
Retrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris. Represented by Galerie Maeght in Paris.
1971
Produces a full-length film Vacanze nel deserto, whose cast includes Camilla, Erró and Dino Buzzati. In Paris, befriends philosopher Jacques Derrida. Designs poster for Glas, which is to become an icon of deconstructionism. Derrida dedicates to his work the essay + R (pas dessus le marché).
1976
First trip to India followed by a long journey through Scandinavia.
1977
Spends a lengthy time in Mexico following an exhibition at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City. The Israel Museum hosts a retrospective. Spends the summer in Jerusalem. 1980 Takes up residence in the Principality of Monaco. Travels to Greece. Italo Calvino writes Quattro fiabe d’Esopo per Valerio Adami.
1985
Major retrospective at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Stops dating his paintings.
1988
The French State commissions a portrait of the composer Pierre Boulez. Also produces a large-scale fresco for the façade of the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
1990
Major retrospective at the IVAM Centre Julio Gonzáles in Valencia. Octavio Paz writes La línea narrativa, dedicated to his work.
1992
Makes four large wall paintings for the Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo designed by the architect Kenzo Tange. Has a one-man show at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel.
1996–1998
Retrospectives in Florence and in Bochum.
1998
Inauguration of an exhibition at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires. An Italian edition of his notebooks is published. Sets up the Fondazione Europea del Disegno, in Meina, on Lake Maggiore.
2001
Prepares the Opera stage for Der Fliegende Holländer by Richard Wagner. His book Dessiner. La gomme et le crayon, is published by Editions Galilée.
2003
Makes two large wall paintings for the new Mandarin Hotel at Columbus Circus in New York.
2003
Gives a series of lectures in France and Europe on Cézanne, in the painter’s studio in Aix-en-Provence; on Ferdinand Léger at Musée Chagall in Nice; on drawing at the University of Valencia.
2006
Retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lisbon.
2008
French philosopher Michel Onfray writes Le chiffre de la peinture. L’œuvre de Valerio Adami.
2009
Invited as ‘master of drawing’ to give a course on the metaphysics of the body during the Schwäbischer Kunstsommer in Irsee (Germany).
Public Collections
Musée National d’art Moderne/Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (France)
Collection de l’État Français
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (France)
Musée d’Art Moderne de Grenoble (France)
Musée Cantini d’Art Moderne de Marseille (France)
Fondation Maeght, Saint Paul de Vence (France)
Musée de Strasbourg (France)
Musée d’Art Moderne, Saint-Etienne (France)
Musée Picasso, Antibes (France)
Museum of Modern Art, Minneapolis (U.S.A.)
Museum of Modern Art, Pittsburgh (U.S.A.)
Mc.Crory Corporation, New York (U.S.A.)
Museo de Arte Moderno, Caracas (Venezuela)
IVAM – Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Valencia (Spain)
Fondacción Miro, Barcelona (Spain)
Musée des Beaux Arts, Brussels (Belgium)
Musée d’Art Moderne, Liège (Belgium)
Museum van Heedendaagse Kunst, Gand (Belgium)
Rotterdam Museum, Rotterdam (Holland)
Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, München (Germany)
Städtische Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim (Germany)
Museo d’Arte Moderna, Rome (Italy)
Museo d’Arte Moderna Palazzo Reale, Milan (Italy)
Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bergamo (Italy)
Museo d’Arte moderna, Lissone (Italy)
Amos Anderson Art Museum, Helsinki (Finland)
Maija and Urpo Lahtinen Foundation, Villa Urpo, Tampere (Finland)
Museum of Art, Tel Aviv (Israel)
Frissiras Museum, Athens (Greece)
Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias, Oviedo (Spain)
Musée d’Art contemporaine, Montecarlo (Monaco)

Exhibitions

2009
Valerio Adami: Postlude, The Mayor Gallery, London, UK
2007
Valerio Adami, Jusqu’ici, Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris, France
2006
Adami d’après Adami, The Museum of Contemporary, Lisbon, Portugal
2005
Galerie Marlbourough Madrid, Spain
2005
Musée Nogueira da Silva, Braga, Portugal
2004
Valerio Adami, Frissiras Museum, Athens, Greece
2004
Valerio Adami : preludes et apres-ludes, Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris, France
2003
Collective exhibition at Galerie Serge Laurent, Paris, France
2003
Valerio Adami, Marlborough Gallery, New York, USA
2002
Solo exhibitions at:
Galerie Forsblom in Helsinki, Finland
Galerie Marlborough in Monaco: Translation of his books at the Editions Galilée in Paris under the title 'Dessiner Exposition personnelle de dessins'
Galerie Marlborough in New York, USA
Galerie Serge Laurent in Paris, France
1998
Retrospective at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, Argentina
1997
Retrospective in Tel Aviv, Israel
1996
Institute of Design, Foundation Adami : texts by Daniel Arasse, Luciano Berio, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Dupin, Carlos Funentes, etc. (éditions Skira, Milan)
1996
Jacques Dupin, Carlos Funentes, etc. (éditions Skira, Milan)
1994
Retrospective at Sienne, in the salles du Palazoo Publico and the Magazzini del Sale
Exhibition at Galerie Lelong in Paris, France
1990
Retrospective at the Centre Julio-Gonzalez de Valence in Spain; preface by Octavo Paz
1989
Paints Valmy, a monumental painting ordered for the bicentennial celebration of the French Revolution; as well as a large fresco dedicated to french music, from Debussy to Messiaen, for the Théâtre du Châelet in Paris, France
1986
Paints two monumental pieces for the Gare d'Austerlitz in Paris, France
1985
Retrospective at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France; text by Dore Ashton, G.F. Lyotard and Alfred Pacquement
1983
Valerio Adami, Fuji Television, Tokyo, Japan
1975
Designs a poster for Glas de Jacques Derrida
1970
Solo exhibition at L'ARC, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and at the Galerie Adrien-Maeght, where he will exhibit regularly. The catalogue is prefaced by Jacques Dupin.
1964
Documenta III, Kassel, Germany
1957
First solo exhibition in Milan, Italy

Literature

2004
Valerio Adami : preludes et apres lude, Edouard Glissant, Editions Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris
2004
Valerio Adami : Stanze Museo Villa de Cedri, Bellinzona
2000
Adami : les couleurs et les mors, Editions du Cherche-Midi, Paris