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Italian Sculptors since the Second World War

Postwar Italian sculpture vaunts a host of prestigious artists who have maintained Italy’s age-old primacy in the plastic arts, from ancient Rome through the medieval works of Arnolfo and the Pisanos into the modern era with artists of the caliber of Donatello, Jacopo della Quercia, Michelangelo, Bernini and Canova.
Thanks to the innovative work of Medardo Rosso, this tradition was not interrupted even Italian art’s worst century, the nineteenth, and it reflowered in the early twentieth with such artists as Umberto Boccioni and his Plastic dynamisms or the polymaterial experimentation of Arturo Martini and Marino Marini.
In the second half of the century, avant-garde sculpture turned to abstraction, and the accomplishments of such new artists as Umberto Mastroianni (heir to Boccioni’s dynamism) even as early as the 1940s, and immediately afterwards Pietro Consagra and Lorenzo Viani threw the Italian school into sharp relief. They were soon joined by other non-figurative sculptors such as Francesco Somaini and above all Giò and Arnaldo Pomodoro, who made their own contribution to the international abstract school that dominated from the 1950s on. A later artistic generation included an artist of extraordinary plastic power like Giuliano Vangi, who after an early period of abstract work returned to potent figurative sculpture. A separate strand was the “Arte Povera” school of the 1960s with its search for new materials on the borderline between sculpture, painting and installations, which in any case did leave its mark upon sculpture, in such an artist as Eliseo Mattiacci, for instance.

Augusta Monferini