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A painter, a stage designer and a printmaker, Clerici was one of the most important exponents of Italian Surrealism in the postwar period. Born in Milan, in 1920 he moved with his family to Rome, where he graduated with a degree in architecture in 1937. As a student he attended conferences held by Le Corbusier, and in 1936 he befriended Alberto Savinio, who introduced him to Surrealism. He moved to Milan at the end of the 1930s and associated himself with Filippo de Pisis and Giorgio de Chirico.