Mattia Jona La Portantina +39 02 8053315

BERGAMO 1908 - ROME 1991

Giacomo Manzoni, known under his nick-name Giacomo Manzù, was the leading artist who made post-war ltalian sculpture famous in the world. Manzù had to leave school at an early age to learn a trade, and he was apprenticed to local craftsmen who taught him to carve wood and to work in metal and stone. After service in the Italian army from 1927 to 1928, he went to Paris for a few weeks, then he settled in Milan, and, after receiving a commission in 1929 to decorate a chapel at the Catholic University, he devoted himself to sculpting full time. Manzù's early works were nudes, portraits, and biblical subjects. The artist visited Rome in 1934, a trip that inspired him to concentrate on religious themes. In 1938 he sculpted the figure of a Roman Catholic cardinal, initiating a series of more than 50 seated or standing cardinals. He also sculpted many tender portrayals of female nudes. In 1941 Manzù became a professor in the Academy of Brera in Milan, but retired soon because of disagreement with the program of studies. In preparation for the Holy Year of 1950, Pope Pius XII held a competition for three new bronze doors to lead from the portico to the Basilica di San Pietro in the Vatican. Of the winners, the most distinguished artist was Manzù. His door, called Door of Death because conceived to be the exit for funeral processions, was consecrated on June 28, 1964. The Door has large modeled panels depicting the Death of Mary and the Death of Christ and lesser panels depicting the death coming to sacred personages and to common mortals.