"It is hands that create works. It is craft that translates ideas into matter, since the most ancient of times, since pre-history… Sculptures shout in silence and narrate time. The sculptor takes a fragment of poetry and turns it into stone"
Lectio magistralis by Pietro Cascella at the Carrara Academy in 2007
Pietro Cascella was a sculptor, painter and ceramist. He inherited his passion from his grandfather Basilio Cascella, his father Tommaso and uncle Michele. He became interested in painting at a very young age following his father’s teachings. In 1938 he moved to Rome to attend the Academy of Fine Arts. In the 1940s he exhibited his works in the IV° Rome Quadrennial and in the first post-war Venice Biennial, followed by participations in 1956, 1966 (personal exhibition room), 1972 and 1986. After the war, he left painting and turned mainly to stone and bronze sculpting. Together with his brother Andrea and with Anna Maria Cesarini – his future wife and mother of Tommaso Jr. and Susanna – he opened a small sculpture and ceramics studio.
At the end of the 1950s he visited Versilia for the first time where he started to work with Henraux, taking part in Erminio Cidonio’s project to turn Querceta into an international centre for contemporary sculpture. During the mid-sixties he met Swiss sculptress from Basel, Cordelia Von Den Steinen, his second wife and mother of Jacopo.
During the 1970s he created many monumental works in marble, travertine and stone, usually made with smooth, rough or corroded blocks. These works merged social commitment and urban-scale sculpture projects: the Arco della Pace in Tel Aviv, the Bella Ciao monument to the Resistance for Massa Carrara, the Monumento a Tutti I Giorni, created in 1980 for the Cathedral square of Pescina, La Nave, the Carrara marble statue created in 1987 and positioned on the Pescara promenade, and the Auschwitz Monument are just a few examples. In 1971 he took part in the XXIII Salon de la Jeune Sculpture of Paris, held an exhibition at the Palais de Beaux Arts of Brussels and set up an extensive solo exhibition at the Rotonda della Besana of Milan. Cascella’s sculptures are characterized by his sharp taste for imposing structures, the feeling of power and energy in both his monumental works and small sculptures, the use of stone defined by the artist as “the backbone of the earth”, the recovery of man’s ancient naturalness and integrity, and the search for and definition of essential, exemplary and archetypal shapes.
He held numerous solo exhibitions, among which: Galleria del Naviglio, Milan (with his brother, 1954); Galleria dell'Obelisco, Rome 1962; Galleria del Milione, Milan 1962; Galleria Bonino, New York 1965; Venice Biennale (dedicated exhibition room, 1966 and environmental sculpture, 1972); Galerie du Dragon and Musée d'Ixelles, Paris 1968; Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris 1971; Galerie Buchholz, Munich 1979; Magazzini del Sale, Siena 1984; Venice 2000; Chamber of Deputies, Rome 2000; Museo Piaggio, Pontedera 2001; Palazzo Rocca, Chiavari 2002; Circolo Artistico, Bologna 2003; IX Biennale, Cairo (dedicated exhibition room, 2003).
He also took part in many group exhibitions in Italy and abroad, among which: III Sindacale Nazionale, Rome 1941; "Artistas Italianos de Hoje" 1963, Sao Paulo Museum of Art Museo, Brazil; Salon de la Jeune Sculpture, Paris 1971; Sculture della Società Henraux, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara 1972; Middelheimpark Biennale, Antwerp 1973. He dedicated himself above all to monumental works, among which the most important are: in the 1970s: "Arco della Pace" 1972, Tel Aviv; "Omaggio all'Europa", Strasbourg; "Monumento a Giuseppe Mazzini" 1974, Milan; "Sole e Luna", Riyadh; "Bella Ciao", Massa; in the 1980s: "Cento Anni di Lavoro", Barilla company facilities, Parma; "Nave", Città di Pescara; Piazza, Milano Tre; "Campo del Sole" 1985, Tuoro sul Trasimeno – the idea behind it was created together with, among others, Cordelia von den Steinen and Mauro Berrettini; in the 1990s: "Volta Celeste" and other sculptures 1993, Arcore; "Agorà", Università di Chieti; "Monumento della Via Emilia", Parma; Porta della Sapienza, Pisa; "Ara del Sole", Ingurtosu, Sardegna; "Teatro della Germinazione", Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo; "Fontana" 2000, Città di Chiavari; "Fontana" for Baraclit 1999, Casentino; "Fontana" 2003, Guastalla. Since 1983 he was a member of the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca in Rome (of which he was also president). In 2003 he received the Premio Internazionale "F.lli Rosselli" in Pietrasanta and the Premio "Guglielmo Marconi" in Bologna. He arrived in Versilia at the end of the 1950s to create some works at Henraux, and started collaborating also with other marble laboratories: Giorgio Angeli, Bertozzi e Frediani, Piero Bibolotti, Bottega Versiliese, Giulio Cardini, Livio Garibaldi, Nilo Giannaccini, Iacopo Giannoni, Giovanni Gozzani, Sauro Lorenzoni, Mirto Nannini, Officina, Pio Rossi, all in the area of Pietrasanta and with the Studio Nicoli in Carrara. He also worked at Fonderie Tommasi, Del Chiaro, Mariani and L'Arte foundries. Since 1973 his trusted craftsman was Liborio Vizzoni. His works are featured in several exhibitions in the Apuan-Versilia area, among which: Galleria Comunale, Forte dei Marmi (solo, 1986); Biennale di Carrara 1967, 1969, 1998, 2000; and dedicated "ad memoriam" exhibition room 2008; Piazza del Duomo and Chiesa di Sant'Agostino, Pietrasanta (solo, 2001), to whom he donated "Memoria di Pietrasanta"; set design of "Turandot" 2003, Festival Puccini, Torre del Lago.
Pietro Cascella dies in 2008 at the age of 87 in his house in Pietrasanta, in the province of Lucca.
The photographs published in the TimeLine were taken from www.archimagazine.com, www.scultura-italiana.com, www.newcom.pr.it, www.treccani.it