The Nivola Museum in Orani, Nuoro, gathers over two hundred works including drawings, paintings and sculptures by great Sardinian artist Costantino Nivola (Orani, 1911-Long Island, 1988).
The museum was built in 1995 in an old washhouse the artist was fond of – as a symbol of the community life in the small town where he was born – and designed by architects Peter Chermayeff, Umberto Floris and Gianfranco Crisci.
Nivola was born in this culturally archaic and isolated corner of Sardinia, but then studied art in 1930s’ Milan, at a time when the city expressed bubbling creativity in architecture, somewhat rebelling against the Fascist regime’s impositions. He moved to the United States in 1939, to escape both the OVRA – after him for anti-fascist activities – and the racial persecutions that hit his wife Ruth Guggenheim, born in Germany in a Jewish family.
In New York he met and became friends with Le Corbusier:
He was sad, was his description of the Swiss-French architect,
as only we Europeans know how to be.
In America, Nivola invented the “sand casting” technique (in which plaster or concrete are poured into a sand mold), which he used, for example, to create a plaster panel for the Big Apple’s Olivetti showroom.
Here are some images of this wonderful museum.