Project Description

Giuseppe Spagnulo

Grottaglie (Taranto), 1936 – Milan, 2016



Born in one of the most important historical centers of ceramics, his first training took place in his father’s ceramic laboratory, where he also mastered the lathe technique.

After completing his first studies at the Art School of his city, he moved to the Institute of Ceramics in Faenza, where he was present from 1952 to 1958 as a pupil of Angelo Biancini. The Faenza years are important for the artist’s education. In fact, in the Ceramics Museum he can study and interpret the works donated by Picasso in the early 1950s and here he carries out his first experiments with stoneware.

In 1959 he moved to Milan to attend the Brera Academy. Become an assistant in the studios of Lucio Fontana and Arnaldo Pomodoro. He also gets in touch with Tancredi and Piero Manzoni. Through Fontana and Manzoni, the young sculptor is informed of the informal ceramic experiences carried out in Albisola, at the time the cultural offshoot of the northern capital.

Spagnulo adheres to the 1968 protest, symbolized in the first metal works, to be installed in the urban environmental space. These “large irons” recover the geometry and constructive logic of the material with which they are forged, and introduce the artist’s reflections on the physicality and materiality of the sculptor’s work. In fact, Spagnulo works in steel mills, blast furnaces and workshops, forging his own sculptures together with the workers.

In the seventies, Spagnulo’s work appears strongly marked by conceptual aspects that highlight his interest in the creative and performative processes of art.

In the early 1980s, the sculptor reactivated his interest in ceramic materials and techniques. At the end of the decade he returned to the theme of broken irons, and in the nineties he tried to give a new meaning to sculpture, challenging the gravity of matter by suspending enormous blocks of iron. In the early nineties he was entrusted with the chair of sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart, following the great success of his work in German galleries and museums. At the beginning of the new millennium, he received the “Faenza Lifetime Achievement Award” and the Award at the Milan International Urban Furniture Competition.

In 2005 he exhibited at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. In 2007 he won the competition for the “Monument to the Fallen of Nassiriya”, with a large sculpture called “The Steel Forest”, located in Rome, near the Basilica of San Paolo Fuori le Mura.

He passed away in Milan in 2016.