ARTURO DI MODICA SCULPTOR OF POWER & VISION
ARTURO DI MODICA SCULPTOR OF POWER & VISION
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Born Ragusa, Sicily
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A Young Man in Florence
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The Leap to NYC
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Studio of the New Renaissance
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ARTURO DI MODICA Arturo Di Modica is a celebrated Italian-American artist born in Vittoria, Sicily ( January 26, 1941). By the time he was a teenager his ambition was to become one of Italy’s finest artists so he moved to Florence, with its reputation for international artistic excellence. After two years at the Academia Del Nudo Libero, he set up his own studio in the heart of the city. Twelve years later his ambition drove him to his next challenge and in 1973 Arturo moved to New York to live and work. He purchased an undeveloped studio on Crosby street and it was here where he created the majority of his oeuvre which today has become so celebrated. Arturo’s most famous work is the sculpture ‘Charging Bull’ known as The Wall Street Bull, which he installed without permission in front of the New York Stock Exchange in December 1989. This led to his arrest. The work cost 360,000 US dollars of the artist’s own money and upon bail he returned the masterpiece, but on the Bull’s return it was due to the public demand and the now iconic Charging Bull found it’s home. ‘Charging Bull’ has become one of the world’s most famous works of sculpture. It draws millions of visitors each year and is constantly being featured in the media worldwide. In 1999 in recognition of the artist’s singular creativity and his artistic achievements which includes ‘Charging Bull’ Arturo Di Modica was selected for The Ellis Island Medal of Honor one of the most prestigious awards given in the United States. Arturo’s greatest personal successes have not just been the awards, exhibitions nor his distinguished collector base but rather the admiration and affection that his work has engendered by the general public not just in the United States but all over the world.
BORN RAGUSA, SICILY Born in the small Sicilian town of Vittoria, in the province of Ragusa, January 26 1941, the young Arturo was drawn to the life of the artist by the time he was a teenager and began to see sculpture as his calling. While growing to manhood in Sicily, his sculpture began to attract much attention throughout the Island.
A YOUNG MAN IN FLORENCE At the age of 19, Di Modica made the decision to leave Sicily and his family for Florence, drawn there by it’s reputation for artistic excellence and his own desire to be among Italy’s finest sculptors and painters. Once there he enrolled in a renowned academy: Florence’s Accademia Del Nudo Libero; the cradle of talented and aspiring artists. After only two years Arturo opened his first studio and even his own foundry in the heart of Florence, there he immediately began to develop a following among other young sculptors and collectors as his body of work became more and more impressive. In Florence he worked principally in bronze and other metals, experimenting equally with figurative and abstract styles. Arturo frequently travelled to Carrara to work with the world’s best marble, creating some of his best early work at the famous Studio Nicoli. Over the following dozen years Di Modica established himself successfully throughout Italy, but he became restless and in need of a larger scope for his work.
THE LEAP TO NYC In 1973, Di Modica made his next great leap by moving to New York, which at the time was the center of the art world. He opened his first American studio on Grand Street in SoHo. Two of his most notable exhibitions at the time were the abstract pieces in marble which he exhibited at the Rockefeller Center in 1977 and also works in bronze at Castle Clinton, Battery Park that same year. It was during this period Arturo established his guerrilla-installation technique of dropping his heavy and barely moveable work in the middle of the night in public places, making him the darling of the New York tabloid press, the delight of morning commuters and the bane of building managers.
CROSBY STREET In 1978 Di Modica purchased an undeveloped plot of land on Crosby Street below Spring Street and proceeded to build his studio. Having no money to hire a contractor, he painstakingly constructed the studio himself from the ground up, literally with his own hands, floor by floor. Building materials were scrounged from demolition sites or bought piecemeal a his budget allowed. As the studio neared completion, Arturo continued to labor on new work, exhibiting his towering bronze horse ‘Il Cavello’ in Lincoln Center in 1985. This sculpture marked a return to a more figurative style for Arturo and a more massive scale – a sign of things to come. It’s also at Crosby Street where this master artist created his most famous sculpture. The seed of the thought came from Arturo’s appreciation, as a recent immigrant, for the opportunities provided to him by America. Having arrived virtually penniless and unknown a decade before, Arturo had through hard work and the support of his collectors prospered enough to own his own property in SoHo and even – every red blooded Italians dream – a red Ferrari. Now Arturo wondered if there might be a suitably dramatic way to demonstrate his love of America.
CHARGING BULL After much preparation, in the dead of night on the 15th December 1989, Arturo Di Modica and accomplices launched their guerilla style mission to place his 3.5 tone Charging Bull sculpture on Wall Street. In the run up to the operation, Di Modica had carefully monitored the police patrols and identified a 5 minute window. However unbeknown to the artist, during the day of the 15th, the City had installed a gigantic Christmas tree in the planned drop location. With no time to spare, Di Modica spontaneously gave the order to place the sculpture under the tree as a giant gift to the American people. Hourâ€™s later early morning commuters were filled with intrigue and joy upon discovering the mysterious early Christmas present. The stunt landed Charging Bull on headlines around the world. Charging Bull was first conceived by Di Modica as means of rallying the American people to fight back against the toils of the 1987 stock market crash. The sculpture has gone on to become a symbol of bullish financial optimism and strength, attracting millions of visitors each year.
STUDIO OF THE NEW RENAISSANCE Di Modica now divides his time between NY and Sicily, where some of his most ambitious projects are underway. The artist is currently building â€˜Studio of the New Renaissanceâ€™ not far from his place of birth in Vittoria. This is the location of his newest Italian studio, an international school for young sculptors from everywhere, and a large complex with an open-air theatre and various other facilities for the public and visitors.
BUND BULL In 2010, Arturoâ€™s second Charging Bull was placed in Chinaâ€™s main financial city of Shanghai in the Bund financial district. It is identical in weight and size to the original at three and a half tons and 18 foot long, but has a more aggressive, heavier stance in the head and shoulders, a different tail and is finished with a reddish bronze patina. As in the New York, the sculpture almost immediately has become one of Shanghaiâ€™s most popular tourist locations not only for foreign visitors but for Chinese citizens as well.
MAQUETTE SERIES Di Modica has created 2ft, 4ft and 8ft maquettes of his Wall Street Charging Bull in both bronze and stainless steel. These highly sought after scaled down versions are in a number of important collections and have been exhibited internationally with the works most recently going on tour in Beijing and the UAE.
MUSIC SERIES The most significant open-air work on display is at the ‘Studio of the New Renaissance’ are Di Modica’s “Music Piece” series of large abstract sculptures in white Carrera marble, each unique piece is about ten feet high and three feet wide, weighing about 1,500 lbs. The key element is that wind or a person striking the sculpture with a stick reproduces musical notes, adding sound to the tactile and visual experience. These larger outdoor pieces have their counterpart in similarly unique oneof-a-kind indoor sculptures also in white (and black) Carrera marble.