Mauro Staccioli (1937–2018)

Italian sculptor Mauro Staccioli, famous for his imposing sculptural works—geometric shapes made from cement-clad iron—died on January 1, 2018, at the age of eighty in his home in Milan, Artribune reports. Born in Volterra, Italy, in 1937, Staccioli earned his degree from the Volterra State Institute of Art in 1954. In 1960, the artist moved to Sardinia and began working as a teacher in Cagliari, the island’s capital. Shortly after, he founded the Gruppo di Iniziativa (Initiative Group) in collaboration with emerging artists and intellectuals in the region. A few years later, Staccioli traveled to Lodi, Italy, and then settled in Milan, where he became the director of the Brera Art School in 1974.

Staccioli worked mostly as a painter and engraver, but would shift to sculpture by the end of the 1960s. In 1972, the artist organized a series of sculptural interventions in Volterra. Titled “Sculture in Città (Sculptures in the City),” the open-air exhibition would mark a turning point in his career. Staccioli began to create massive sculptural works, juxtapositions of the natural and urban environments, and installed them in outdoor settings in cities across Italy as well as in Munich and Brussels.

In the October 1995 issue of Artforum, Giorgio Verzotti writes, “In his indoor as well as his outdoor installations, Mauro Staccioli’s sculptures set up a tension between the work itself and the exhibition site. Staccioli is perhaps the only sculptor in Italy doing work on such a monumental scale. Impressive in its structural solutions, without being too dependent on the language of Minimalism, it comprises circles, semicircles, rings, triangles, and long elliptical lines that rise from the earth to the sky.”

The artist was invited to exhibit in the 1976 and 1978 iterations of the Venice Biennale, where he erected Muro, a twenty-six-feet-high concrete wall that obstructed the entrance to the Italian Pavilion. Staccioli made his debut in the United States in 1984 when he installed a suspended plinth upon the staircase of the University Gallery of Amherst, Massachusetts, where he had his first US solo exhibition in 1984. His work would also be showcased by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego as well as in the park of the Djerassi Foundation in Woodside, California, and at the Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Santa Monica in 1993.

During the 2008 edition of MiArt, the International Fair of Modern and Contemporary Art in Milan, Galleria Niccoli and Galleria Il Ponte temporarily erected Quadrato dai lati curvi (Square with curved sides)—one of the artist’s biggest pieces—in the Piazza Duomo in Milan. And, in 2009, the two galleries organized the artist’s largest exhibition to date, “Mauro Staccioli. Volterra 1972–2009. Luoghi d’esperienza.”