“The concept of a sculpture must not emanate from your bourgeois prejudices but only and exclusively from love. It is not only to you I say this: I constantly impress it upon myself as well.” - Giacomo Manzù
Born December 22, 1908, in Bergamo Italy, the twelfth child of a poor cobbler and sacristan. Although he was mainly self-taught in art, he began his career as a draughtsman and sculptor, after he received experience as an apprentice of woodcarving and eighteen months of military training in Verona. Influenced by the Etruscans, Roman and Gothic stonemasons, and Medardo Rosso, Manzù used his reactions to Parisian Impressionism to infuse his own work with light and materiality. He taught at the Turin Academy during the war years and in 1942 he established a studio near Milan, where he began working with genre subjects. The unlikely pair of Pope John XXIII, fellow citizen of Bergamo, and Manzù, Communist sculptor, created a warm and significant friendship which resulted in many beautiful works of art. Pope John commissioned several important works, including his portrait bust and perhaps Manzù’s most important work, the portal of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome- the first new doors in the cathedral for 500 years. Manzù passed away January 17, 1999.
*Excerpt from a speech given to his students at the conclusion of his lectureship in Salzberg, 1960.