Attilio Piccirilli

(1866 -1945) was an Italian American sculptor. Born in the province of Massa-Carrara, Italy, he was educated at the Accademia di San Luca of Rome. Piccirilli came to the United States in 1888 and worked for his father and then with his brothers as a sculptor, modeler and stone carver at their studio in the Bronx, NY. As an artist in his own right, he is the author of the Maine Memorial in Columbus Circle, at the entrance to Central Park. He created a monument for his mother’s memorial in Woodlawn Cemetery. Also in New York he created sculptural details for the Frick Mansion on 5th Avenue and the Firemen’s Memorial, a group of figures in Riverside Park.

Before Piccirilli and his family arrived in America, many American artists were forced to travel to Italy to have their models carved into stone. if an artist presented Allilio with small plaster model, Attilio could create a marble replica to any size. Fragilina is one of the works that was designed and sculpted in marble by Attilio. Piccirilli’s most famous work is the creation of the Lincoln statue for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, which was designed by Daniel Chester French. Attilio’s works that he both designed and sculpted are the Maine Monument in Central Park, New York and the Firemen’s Monument on Riverside Drive, New York. Piccirilli became a member of the National Academy of Design and the Architectural League. He won numerous prizes including a Gold Medal at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. Attilio also helped create the Leonardo da Vinci Art School in New York City, New York. Its purpose was to give affordable training in sculpture.

Piccirilli is represented in the sculpture collection at Brookgreen Gardens. His work is also found in museums around the United States. His white marble “Fragilina” now stands in the newly rearranged American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. “Fragilina” in Italian means “the little delicate one.” Fragilina is part of a series of female nudes that Attilio sculptured, beginning with “A Soul” in 1909. Piccirilli’s style is distinctly personal and highly selective. Simplicity and restraint are his creed. Fragilina was part of an exhibit at the National Sculpture Society in New York in 1923. It was also exhibited at the National Academy of Design commemorative exhibition in 1925. Piccirilli also made smaller versions of Fragilina, including two bronze casts. One of which is at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Maine Memorial at Central Park

Enrico Causici

Born in Verona in 1790 and Italian trained, Enrico Causici emigrated to the United States in 1816, after he was recommended as an artist to President James Madison and Secretary of State James Monroe by the US consul in Genoa , Edward Caffarena. The United States, then a new country, still lacked national artists and looked for talent in Europe. Causici was hired between 1817 and 1827 to complete the sculptural decoration of the US Capitol building, where he worked alongside many of his compatriots ( Luigi Persico , Antonio Capellano, Giuseppe Valaperti Carlo Franzoni.) They were the first to introduce American mythology into their sculptures.

Placed high above the cornice in the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol is a colossal sculptural group consisting of three figures, created by Causici. The over-13-foot-high, classically draped female figure, called Liberty, looks straight out over the room, her left hand on her hip and her right holding a scroll representing the Constitution of the United States. Causici called her, “The Genius of the Constitution.” An American eagle stands to her right and on her left a snake, the symbol of wisdom, is entwined around a bundle of rods that symbolize governmental authority.

When the House of Representatives met in this hall between 1819 and 1857, this sculpture stood above the Speaker’s desk. Enrico intended to carve the figures in marble but was never hired to do so; his plaster model was lifted into place in 1819 and has been painted and repainted over the years. Causici also designed and carved two of the reliefs in the Rotunda, “The Landing of the Pilgrims”, “Daniel Boone and the Indians” and sculpted the statue on the Washington Monument.

The Landing of the Pilgrims

The Landing of the Pilgrims

John Rapetti

(1862-1936), worked in Paris with Frederic Bartholdi on the “Statue of Liberty” and his name in engraved in the crown as one of its creators.

The sculptor of the “Soldier & Sailor Memorial” was also Giovanni (John) Rapetti. He was born in Como, Italy in 1862 and studied in Milan, Italy and Paris. While in Paris, Rapetti worked as an assistant to Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. Bartholdi was the man behind the “Statue of Liberty” and Rapetti worked on the statue with him.

In 1889, William Ordway Partridge persuaded Rapetti to accept employment in his studio. He came to the United States and worked on the Colombian Exposition and the Alexander Hamilton Memorial.

Rapetti created Weehawken’s “World War One Memorial” in bronze. The Memorial is located at Boulevard East and Hudson Pace. It sits silently guarding the the cliffs of Weehawken, with the island of Manhattan as a backdrop. The memorial consists of a pair of bronze eagles, a “doughboy” and a sailor. “Doughboy” was a popular nickname for the American soldiers and Marines during World War I. The Weehawken “World War One Memorial” is dedicated to the twenty-one sons who made the supreme sacrifice in the World War One.

Rapetti was a long time resident of Weehawken N.J. and died in his home on June 23, 1936.

World War One Memorial

Frank Stella

(1936 -) achieved fame as a painter and sculptor in the 1960’s. His art evolved through several stages and his works range from minimalist paintings to abstract expressionism to sculpture. His paintings hang in America’s most prestigious museums, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Chicago’s Art Institute and San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, as well as, in museums in Europe.

Born in Malden, Massachusetts, the son of a Sicilian American physician, Stella attended Phillips Academy and Princeton University, where he majored in history. Early visits to New York art galleries influenced his artistic interest and development.

Stella’s art was recognized for its innovations before he was twenty-five. In 1959, several of his paintings were included in “Three Young Americans” at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, as well as in “Sixteen Americans” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Stella joined dealer Leo Castelli’s group of artists in 1959. He, then, began to produce paintings in aluminum and copper paint with regular lines of color separated by pinstripes. They used a wide range of colors and are his first works using shaped canvases (canvases in a shape other than the traditional rectangle or square), often being in L, N, U or T-shapes

From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, Stella’s paintings gave way to full three-dimensionality on canvas, with sculptural forms derived from cones, pillars, curves, waves and decorative architectural elements. To create these works, the artist used collages or maquettes that were then enlarged and re-created with the aids of industrial metal cutters and digital technologies.

In the 1990s, Stella began making free-standing sculpture for public spaces. In 1993 he created the entire decorative scheme for Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre, which includes a 10,000-square-foot mural. He painted and oversaw the installation of the 5,000-square-foot “Stella Project” which serves as the centerpiece of the theater and lobby in the Moores Opera House located at the Rebecca and John J. Moores School of Music on the campus of the University of Houston, in Houston, TX. His aluminum bandshell, inspired by a folding hat from Brazil, was built in downtown Miami in 2001; a monumental Stella sculpture was installed outside the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

His art has been the subject of several retrospectives in the United States, Europe and Japan. Among the many honors he has received was an invitation from Harvard University to give the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures in 1984. These talks were published by Harvard University Press in 1986 under the title “Working Space”.

Stella continues to live and work in New York. He also remains active in protecting the rights for his fellow artists. In 2009, Frank Stella was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. In 2011, Frank Stella was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture by the International Sculpture Center.

Stella’s Memantra in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Roof Garden

Mark di Suvero

is an American abstract expressionist sculptor. He was born Marco Polo Levi-Schiff di Suvero in Shanghai, China in 1933 to Italian expatriates. He immigrated to San Francisco, California in 1941 with his family. From 1953 to 1957, he attended the University of California, Santa Barbara to study Philosophy. He later moved to New York City, where surrounded by an explosion of Abstract Expressionism, he focused all his attention on sculpture. While working, he was critically injured in an elevator accident and was in a wheelchair for years.

While in rehabilitation, he learned to walk again and then to work with an arc welder. His early works were large outdoor pieces that incorporated wooden timbers from demolition buildings, tires, scrap metal and structural steel. This exploration transformed over time into a focus on H-beams and heavy steel plates. Many of the pieces contain sections that are allowed to swing and rotate giving the overall forms a considerable degree of motion. He prides himself on his hands-on approach to the fabrication and installation of his work. Di Suvero pioneered the use of a crane as a sculptor’s working tool.

His distinctive, large bold pieces can be found all over the world. He continues to exhibit and his commitment to emerging artists is undeniable through the Athena Foundation and the Socrates Sculpture Park. Di Suvero has received the Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Center and, in 2005, the 11th Annual Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities for his commitment to aspiring artists. Di Suvero currently lives in New York City with his wife and daughter. He has two working studios, an open air fabrication facility in Petaluma California and a former brickyard on the edge of the East River in Long Island City, Queens, New York.

Northern Italian Cuisine

Creamy Risotto with Fontina Val d’Aosta

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) short-grained rice (Arborio or Carnaroli)
  • 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
  • Simmering beef broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, warmed
  • 1/4 pound (100 g) fontina val d’aosta,(Fontina cheese from northern Italy) finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • Salt & pepper

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook until it becomes translucent. Add the rice and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring all the while. Add the warmed wine (if it’s cold you’ll shock the grains). Begin adding the beef broth, a ladle at a time, stirring gently. When the rice is almost at the al dente stage stir in the cheese and cook a minute or two more. Add the remaining butter. Cover and let sit for a couple of minutes before serving.

Central Italian Cuisine

Roast Chicken with Garlic, Lemon and Parsley

Serve with roasted potatoes and onions.

Marinade:

  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

Chicken:

  • 1 whole chicken (3-pound)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 Garlic head (unpeeled)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

To prepare marinade: combine all ingredients in a food processor; process to a paste.

Coat the chicken with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Season chicken with salt and pepper; place on rack in roasting pan. Wrap garlic in foil and place alongside the chicken. Roast 1 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in a thigh registers 165 degrees F. Remove from the oven and let rest 20 minutes.

Reserve pan juices in the roasting pan. Add broth and lemon juice. Squeeze roasted garlic cloves into broth mixture. Whisk, stirring to loosen brown bits and simmer until slightly thickened. Serve with chicken.

Southern Italian Cuisine

Ricotta Cake with Pear and Grappa Sauce

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3 pounds fresh ricotta cheese
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon plus more for dusting

Sauce

  • 4 large firm-ripe pears, such as Comice, peeled, cored, cut into ¼ inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup grappa
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

For the cake:

Heat oven to 350º F with a rack in middle. Grease a 9- x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, combine cheese, eggs, sugar and lemon juice. Beat, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to medium, until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Place cinnamon in fine sieve; evenly dust over the batter. Bake until cake is set and edges are lightly golden, about 1 hour. Let cool completely on wire rack, then chill at least 4 hours or up to 1 day. Dust the top of the cake with additional cinnamon before serving.

For the sauce:

In a medium saucepan, combine pears, sugar, grappa, cinnamon stick and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring once or twice, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the fruit is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Serve cake with sauce.

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