Manzù’s cardinals, in the eyes of a cardinal

Lombard sculptor Giacomo Manzù (born Giacomo Manzoni, 1908-1991) started creating statues of cardinals in 1938 and continued to work on this particular theme for the rest of his artistic career.

Therefor, we expect no one could comment on his work better than a cardinal, such as Gianfranco Ravasi, current president of the Holy See’s of the Pontifical Council for Culture:

“At first, Manzù worked in the workshops of a wood carver, a gilder, and a stucco worker. I never met him in person, but often heard about him from a common friend – Aligi Sassu, another important figure in 20th-century art, who contributed with Manzù to the ‘Corrente’ movement in 1938-40.”

“That is how I discovered Manzù’s first phase, his archaic-looking ‘primitivism’, which I also saw every time I went through the doors of the Catholic University in Milan, in the decorations of its chapel. Then there was a turning point in his creativity, and his works acquired an outstanding plastic softness, while still retaining their solemn essentiality.”

“I will never forget his series of hieratic ‘Cardinals’ in lavish copes, with miters that were the apexes of a pyramidal structure. Manzù’s art thus merged with the religious values he had breathed since his childhood, but from which he had personally taken distance.”

“One of the most intense signs of this merger is the grandiose portal that I always look at when I go to Saint Peter’s for papal celebrations. It was the height of his human and artistic research, as proven by the troubled process that lasted a dozen years before the work was completed and placed in the Basilica’s atrium: it is the so-called ‘Door of Death’, which Manzù in the end was spurred to finish out of dedication for then-pope, Saint John XXIII, who was from his same region” (translated from “Le meraviglie dei Musei Vaticani”, Mondadori, Milan 2014).

Giacomo Manzù, sculture, cardinali - cardinals sculptures

"Great Cardinal", 1983

"Two Cardinals"

Giacomo Manzù, sculture, cardinali - cardinals sculptures

"Great Sitting Cardinal", 1983

Giacomo Manzù, sculture, cardinali - cardinals sculptures

"Great Sitting Cardinal", 1983, detail

Giacomo Manzù, sculture, cardinali - cardinals sculptures

"Great Portrait of Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro", 1953, Basilica of Saint Petronius, Bologna

Giacomo Manzù, sculture, cardinali - cardinals sculptures

"Sitting Cardinal", 1975-77, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Giacomo Manzù, sculture, cardinali - cardinals sculptures

"Sitting Cardinal", 1957

Giacomo Manzù, sculture, cardinali - cardinals sculptures

"Great Cardinal", 1965

Giacomo Manzù, sculture, cardinali - cardinals sculptures

"Cardinal", ca. 1957, Fondazione Lercaro, Bologna

Giacomo Manzù, sculture, cardinali - cardinals sculpturesGiacomo Manzù, sculture, cardinali - cardinals sculpturesGiacomo Manzù, sculture, cardinali - cardinals sculptures

"Door of Death" for Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, 1964

Giacomo Manzù, sculture, cardinali - cardinals sculptures

"Death of Pope John XXIII", 1963, Ardea, Manzù Collection

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