Franz Borghese was born in Rome in 1941. He received his early education at the city’s renowned art school in Via di Ripetta, where Domenico Purificato, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Umberto Maganzini, and Giulio Turcato taught.
In the late 1950s, he met Ugo Moretti and Sebastiano Sanguigni at Via Margutta, sharing his first studio with them in the Parioli district before moving across the river to Prati. There, he met Daniela Romano, who would become his partner in both life and work.
In the 1960s, together with Daniela Romano, Roberta Correnti, Giorgio Fasan, Dario Bellezza, Roberto D’Ercole, Massimo Antoci and Alessandro Haber, he founded the group Il Ferro cavallo (The Horseshoe) as well as the magazine of the same name. With some of these companions he made the experimental neo-expressionist art film La grande mela (The Big Apple), taking aim at the consumer society. His first solo exhibition was held in Rome in 1968 and was immediately followed by one in Chicago. He gradually abandoned his dramatic painting style, characterized by dark deep tones and, influenced by the aesthetics of George Grosz, Otto Dix, James Ensor, Maccari and Heinrich Hoerle, he began to paint the ironic, satirical figures that would become the distinctive feature of his work. In 1970, his first solo exhibition featuring the paintings of this new phase was held at Il Calibro gallery in Rome. Thereafter, he had numerous solo exhibitions in prominent private galleries and museums in Italy and abroad.
Amongst his most important pictorial cycles of the 1970s and 1980s are La nave dei folli (The Ship of Fools), I nuovi animali domestici (The New Household Pets), Eduardo esce dal teatro (Eduardo Leaves the Theatre), W la guerra (Long Live the War), Gli orrendi misfatti di Phantomas (The Terrible Misdeeds of Phantomas) and Storia della Grand Armée (History of the Grand Armée). In 1986 he was invited to present a major solo exhibition at the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. In the 1990s, he painted further important cycles, among which Invenzioni e scoperte (Inventions and Discoveries), Le macchine volanti (The Flying Machines), I racconti del delitto (Tales of Murder), Il diario di un’egocentrico (The Diary of an Egocentric) and Il concerto nell’uovo (The Concert in the Egg), which were exhibited in Italy and abroad. In 2003 Rosso Borghese (Bourgeois Red), a retrospective of his work, was held at the Royal Palace of Caserta, and in 2005 a major solo exhibition took place at Palazzo Venezia in Rome. Franz Borghese died unexpectedly in December of the same year.