Giacomo Manzu - Buy or sell works
(also known as Giacomo Manzoni)
22 December 1908, Bergamo (Italy) - 17 January 1991, Rome (Italy)
He was born in Bergamo, Italy, in 1908 and died at age 82 in 1991. Along with his many siblings, he was the son of a shoemaker. Throughout his life he was a prolific sculptor, mostly working with bronze, leaving numerous sculptures dotted around his home town. We was almost entirely self-taught and drew inspiration from ancient Greek art and medieval stonework.
He revisited a twig motif time and again, from his botanical studies of the 1940s to one of his masterpieces, the “Porta della Morte” aka. Doors of Death in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. These doors are used as the exit in funerary processions and were commissioned by the Vatican in the early 1950s. The handle of the door has the form of a twig which Manzù referred to as “Tralci di Vita” - instincts of life. Manzù took his time finishing the reliefs despite the encouragement of his close friend Pope John XXIII. In 1964, a year after his friend’s death, the doors were finally consecrated. As a legacy of their friendship and one of his better known works, the sculptor also made a portrait of Pope John XXIII. He became famous for the motif of the “Cardinals”, an iconographic invention associated primarily with him.
Shortly afterwards he reused the “Tralci di Vita” motif for the bronze door of the Palazzo d’Italia at New York’s Rockefeller Centre. A very similar form can also be found in the “Porta d’Amore” for Salzburg Cathedral.
During the Second World War he went into hiding because of his anti-fascist and anti-Nazi drawings. For a short time after the war, he settled in Salzburg where he met his wife Inge Schabel, before moving to Ardea near Rome. Manzù often used her as the model for his portraits and sculptures. His son Pio Manzù followed in his father’s creative footsteps and became and interior designer. He is known for having designed the 1971 Fiat 127, though ironically, he died in a car accident on the way to the final presentation of his model.