Arnaldo Pomodoro in 1975

On this day in history: Birth of sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro

History of Italy News

The avant-garde sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro was born in Morciano di Romagna, a small town just inland from the Adriatic coast, on this day in 1926. He is best known for his Sphere within Sphere series.

One of Italy’s most influential sculptors, Arnaldo Pomodoro became famous for a series of monumental spherical bronze sculptures with their outer surface cracked to reveal intricate interiors. His Sphere within Sphere (Sfera con Sfera) was installed in the Cortile della Pigna courtyard at the Vatican Museums in Roma in the 1960s. Subsequently, he has produced versions for many locations around the world, including near his birthplace, on the beach front at Pesaro.

Career path from surveying to sculpture

Interested in art from a young age, Pomodoro was inspired by the countryside and architecture of Montefeltro, an historical region close to where he grew up.  He studied at the Technical Institute for Surveyors in Rimini and secured a job in the Public Works Office in Pesaro, working on the restoration of public buildings.

However, he remained curious of different art forms, studying stage set design to jewellery design in his spare time.

After moving to Milan in 1954, Pomodoro pursued his artistic interests further. His earliest sculptures were shown at the Galleria del Naviglio in Milan in 1955. Alongside his younger brother, Giò, he participated in the Venice Biennale.

Artist in residence at US universities

Pomodoro spent the early part of the 1960s in the United States after obtaining a grant to study American art. He exhibited at a number of festivals. In 1963 he won the International Prize for Sculpture at the São Paulo Biennale. In 1964 he also won the National Prize for Sculpture at the XXXII Venice Biennale.

He remained in the United States for some years. He was artist in residence at Stanford University, followed by the University of California, Berkeley.

In the 1980s, Pomodoro returned to stage design. Even aged 81, he designed the stage and customs for Teneke by Fabio Vacchi at Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

Pomodoro’s favourite sculptures

Sfera con Sfera in the Vatican

In the 1970s, Pomodoro gained renown for his work with geometric shapes, with disks, pyramids and cubes but in particular spheres. His Sfera con Sfera at the Vatican Museums attracted huge interest.

Other works by Pomodoro to have found permanent homes include a large fibreglass crucifix for the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Wisconsin. It features a 14-foot (4.27m) diameter crown of thorns which hovers over the figure of Christ.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, a Pomodoro sculpture of a decorative pillar with a sphere on its top, is in the Amaliehaven park close to Amalienborg Palace. It is entitled Solar Form.

Pomodoro has described his Disco Grande, which can be found in Piazza Filippo Meda, Milan, as one of the works that has given him the most personal pride. It is a 4.5m (15ft) bronze disc with two faces. There are five large cracks extending to its outer edges, evoking an exploding sun or star.

Disco Grande, Milan

Now aged 96, Pomodoro lives in Milan. He received The Knight of the Great Cross of the Italian Republic in 1996.

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