Museo Emilio Greco

Emilio Greco. Notes on his life

Emilio Greco, primo pianoEmilio Greco was born in Catania on October 11, 1913. He began drawing while still very young and since his father wanted him to learn a more lucrative profession, he secretly filled notebook on notebook with drawings.

In view of the modest conditions of the family he left school and was apprenticed to a sculptor of funeral monuments, where he quickly learned to chisel the marble and model fragments of classic works in clay.

When he was twenty he moved to Rome. He was drafted and spent three years in Albania. When the Allies arrived he joined the American Red Cross as draftsman and earned his living making portraits for the soldiers.

In 1947 he had a studio in Villa Massimo, together with artists such as Leoncillo, Guttuso and Mazzacurati. It was here in 1948 that he prepared the exhibit for the Galleria del Secolo. To be noted in the catalogue, with an introduction by Fortunato Bellonzi, are the Skater and the Wrestler. That year he also participated in the "Exhibition on the Olympics" in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and his Wrestler was in the "Exhibit on Sport" at the Tate Gallery.

In 1949 he was invited to the exhibit "Italian Twentieth-century Art" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, with two bronze sculptures, Head of a man and Singer. In the same period the Tate Gallery in London acquired his Seated Figure.

An exhibit in Munich marked the beginning of 1950. In 1951 he participated, as he had in 1943, in the "Quadriennale" in Rome as well as exhibiting in the Galleria d'Arte Moderna there.

In 1953 he was in Bordeaux for the "Quadriennale", then in Florence with a one-man show in Palazzo Strozzi. That same year Greco participated in the competition for the "Monument to Pinocchio", winning with a sketch drawn on an envelope while traveling by train from Rome to Carrara.

In 1954 there was an exhibit of his drawings in Rhode Island and of sculpture in Rotterdam.

In 1955 he exhibited in London, Venice, St. Louis and with the economic support of an American who was born in Collodi created the statue of Pinocchio, based on the sketch in his one-man show at the gallery L'Obelisco in Rome the year before.

In 1956 Greco won the "Gran Premio della Scultura" at the "XXVIII Biennale of Venice" where he exhibited his Bather n. 1 which won him the award as well as Fiorella (terracotta), Seated figure (bronze) and a few heads.

In 1956 the President of the Republic of Italy inaugurated the Monument to Pinocchio in Collodi.

In 1957 he exhibited at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo in Brazil, then in Dubrovnik and New York in the group show "Italy the new vision".

His first important one-man show was in Palazzo Barberini in 1958. He also exhibited in a group show "Ten contemporary Italian Sculptors" in Houston, Texas, at the Museum of Pasadena in the exhibit "The new Renaissance in Italy" and at the "World Fair" in Brussels.

In 1959 he had a one-man show at the Stadtische Galerie in Munich with small bronzes as well as large statues such as Bather n. 1 and the Large Bather n. 2. Then came London with a one-man show at the Roland, Browse & Delbanco art gallery, a group show at the Tate Gallery and in Venice with a one-man exhibit of drawings and prints at Cà Pesaro.

In1960 he was in the group show at the Musée Rodin in Paris "Sculpture Italienne Contemporaine d'Arturo Martini à nos jours" and in Berlin inaugurated the exhibit "Der Bildhauer Emilio Greco Plastik und Zeichnungen".

Between 1960 and 1961 Greco was at work on the bas reliefs for the church of San Giovanni Battista in Florence by the architect Giovanni Michelucci.

That same year he received the "Medaglia d'oro del Presidente della Repubblica per i benemeriti della Cultura e dell'Arte". In 1961 he participated in the "2ème Exposition International de Sculpture Contemporaine" at the Musée Rodin in Paris, and a one-man show at the Shirokjia Foundation in Tokyo.

He was in Paris at the Musée d'Art Moderne in 1962 for the "Exposition International du petit bronze". The same year he received the commission for the doors of the cathedral of Orvieto which he completed in 1964. While the two side doors are not figural, the center door in bas relief illustrates the seven works of mercy.

In 1963 Greco was in Lisbon with a one-man show at the Fondaçao Calouste Goubelkian. That same year he exhibited a selection of works in Rome at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni.

At the end of 1964 Giovanni Fallani commissioned a Monument to Pope John XXIII from the sculptor, which was then inaugurated by Paul VI on June 29, 1967.

In 1965 Greco participated with a selection of prints and drawings in the "VI Biennale" in Venice, with sculpture at the "IV Biennale Internazionale di scultura" in Carrara, and the "XXIV Biennale Nazionale d'arte" in Milan.

Two Australian shows opened 1966: National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne and "Festival of Arts" of the National Gallery of South Australia.

Greco's postage stamps are in the Bolaffi catalogue.

In 1967 the artist participated in the exhibit "Artists for Florence" at Palazzo Vecchio, organized by the Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Contemporanea; and also in the "VII Biennale Nazionale d'Arte Sacra" a traveling exhibit in Milan, Bologna and Rome.

For the Borromini centennial, the City of Rome coined a medal designed by Greco that was issued on April 21, 1968.

In 1969 he was in Florence both in the "International Biennial" in Palazzo Strozzi and in the Galleria Pananti where Greco's donations to the International Gallery of Modern Art in Florence and the Vatican Pinacoteca were on exhibit.

In August of 1970 when the heated discussions as to whether it was fitting to set a contemporary work in a Gothic façade had died down the doors were finally hung in the Cathedral of Orvieto.

The large anthological exhibit in Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara dates to the end of 1970.

In 1971 Emilio Greco had a one-man show at the "Italienische Kulterinstitut" in Vienna, repeated at the Musée Rodin in Paris for the "IVème Exposition Internationale de Sculpture Contemporaine".

In 1972 the important Ferrara exhibit of 1970 went first to the Gendai Chokokusenta in Osaka, then to the Modern Fine Arts Museum of Kobe, to Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, and Kyoto. In Japan, after the Tokyo exhibit at the Mitsukoshi Gallery of Modern Art in 1973, on June 31, 1974 Greco inaugurated a permanent exhibit of 1,800 square meters, the "Greco Garden" in the Open Air Museum of Hakope.

In 1977 Greco had various exhibits in Innsbruck, then Jakarta, Indonesia.

Between 1979 and 1980 he was in the Soviet Union, accompanied by his daughter Antonella, with exhibits at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the Hermitage in Leningrad, to which he donated a group of works.

In the 1980s he was as active as ever with an anthological exhibit in Orvieto at Palazzo Soliano, in July of 1980.

In 1981 Greco was in Perugia with the exhibit "Signs for peace".

From July to September of 1983 there was a large anthological exhibit in Rome, at Castel Sant'Angelo. The year after he was in Tuscany, in Val d'Orcia, with the traveling show "I grandi Maestri e le nuove frontiere culturali".

Between 1984 and 1985 he was at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome and in the Vatican with the exhibit "Dante in Vaticano – la Divina Commedia nell'interpretazione degli artisti contemporanei".

In 1986 Emilio Greco was invited to the Palazzo della Ragione in Padua and the "Biennale Internazionale del Bronzetto".

The exhibit "Emilio Greco Sculptures 1948-79" in Turin, in Palazzo Nervi was in 1987. In 1988 two castles, one in Padua and one in L'Aquila, housed an exhibit titled "Homage to Emilio Greco", wile there was a large traveling exhibit in Japan.

"Sport in the art of Emilio Greco" was the exhibit in Florence in 1988 and 1989.

In 1990 the "Festival of Two Worlds" hosted Emilio Greco in the group show "Il corpo in corpo - schede per la scultura italiana 1920/40".

Another excursion into twentieth-century sculpture was the Roman exhibit: "Civitas Artis, scultura italiana del Novecento" inaugurated at Piazza del Pincio in September 1991.

In 1992 the artist participated in the celebrations in honor of Christopher Columbus with an exhibit in the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa and the following year in Salzburg for a group show in honor of Kokoschka, who was a friend of his.

In 1991 the Museo Emilio Greco was inaugurated in Orvieto. It contains his principal works: twenty-six sculptures from 1947 to 1983, and sixty prints and drawings from 1946 to 1991, as well as medals and bas reliefs.

Since July of 1992 the Museo Nazionale d'Abruzzo of L'Aquila has a room dedicated to Greco with sculpture in bronze and terracotta. The "Museo Emilio Greco", with a collection of sculptures and prints and drawings, is in the town hall of Sabaudia, where the sculptor is buried. In 1994 the Museo Emilio Greco, with the artist's prints and drawings, was inaugurated in Catania in the same building as the Museo civico Belliniano.

Emilio Greco also taught in Naples for twelve years, in Rome, Carrara, as well as in the Academy of Munich and Salzburg.

He was also known for his literary production and poetry: Poesie of 1951, L'oro antico delle vigne of 1978, Memoria dell'estate of 1980, Appunti di una vita of 1980 and Dell'antica voce of 1985.

Greco died in Rome on April 4, 1995.


Museo dell’Opera del Duomo di Orvieto

Opera del Duomo di Orvieto - 26, Piazza del Duomo - 05018 Orvieto Tel +39 0763 342477 - Fax: +39 0763 340336
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