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Eliseo Mattiacci installing “Roma” [Rome], 1980/1981, at the Azione all Isola Tiberina in Rome in 1980.
Eliseo Mattiacci installing “Roma” [Rome], 1980/1981, at the Azione all Isola Tiberina in Rome in 1980.

Eliseo Mattiacci (1940–2019)

Eliseo Mattiacci, the Italian postwar artist who, over the course of his five-decade career, created sculptures that grapple with the mysteries of the cosmos, died in Pesaro, Italy, on August 26. His passing was confirmed by the Turin-based dealer Filippo Fossati. Affiliated with movements such as Arte Povera and Minimalism, Mattiacci used his practice to gain a better understanding of man’s relationship to the universe, producing works that explore invisible forces such as gravity, focus on the “living” qualities of metals, and interact with their surrounding environment.

Born in Cagli, in the province of Pesaro, in 1940, Mattiacci graduated from the region’s Istituto di Belle Arti in 1959. After relocating to Rome, the sculptor mounted his first solo exhibition at La Tartaruga in 1967, which included historic works such as Tubo, nearly five hundred feet of yellow, nickel-plated, iron pipe that snaked its way throughout the gallery, traveling up a staircase and from one room into another. Mattiacci participated in international group shows such as the Paris Biennial; the Fujisankei Biennial in the Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan; and the São Paulo Bienal, and represented Italy at the Venice Biennale twice, in 1972 and 1988.

Recent notable exhibitions include “GONG” (2018), a presentation of twenty of his outdoor sculptures at Forte di Belvedere in Florence; a major 2016 retrospective of his work at the Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento in Rovereto, Italy; and “Eliseo Mattiacci,” the inaugural exhibition at the Fondazione Prada in Milan. Among his many accolades were the first prize at the 1995 Fujisankei Biennial at the Hokone Open Air Museum in Tokyo and the Feltrinelli Sculpture Award of the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome in 2008. Today, his work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museo Arte Contemporanea di Cassino in Italy; the University of California, Los Angeles; and the Zagreb Contemporary Art Museum in Croatia.

Eliseo Mattiacci, Totem con nuvola [Totem with cloud], 1996, at the Forte di Belvedere, in Florence, Italy, 2018.