“Without a touch of folly accompanied by intellectual curiosity and poetry, life would be a trivial matter”
After working as an apprentice in 1926 for Mario Delitala in Sassari, he attended the Institute for Industrial Arts of Monza in 1931 thanks to a scholarship from the Economy Council of Nuoro. In 1932-'33 he took part in several government-sponsored exhibits in Sardinia and in an exhibition of the Italian Aeronautics in Milan. He visited Paris in this period. He graduated in graphic design in 1936 and became Art Director at Olivetti in Milan. He exhibited his mural panels both at the IV Triennale Milanese and at the Italian pavilion of the Paris World Exposition, where he moved in 1938.
In 1939 he settled in New York, where he worked for six years as Art Director for "Interiors and Industrial Design" and "You". He worked with many architects, including Le Corbusier, with whom he shared a studio for two years from 1946, and then opened a studio in East Hampton, New York. Here, he became friends with Jackson Pollock. In 1949 he invented a new technique for bas-relief sculptures called "sand casting" and in 1961 another called "cement carving". He taught at Harvard University (1954, and then for the Graduate School of Design and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, 1970), at Columbia University 1961-1962, at the Art Department of the University of California, Berkeley 1978 and at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague 1982.
Among his most important solo exhibitions: Tibor De Nagy Gallery, New York 1950; Peridot Gallery, New York 1954, 1955; Architectural League, New York 1958; Galleria Il Milione, Milan 1959; Arts Club, Chicago 1960; American Federation of Arts, travelling exhibition 1960; Faculty of Architecture, Columbia University 1962; Galleria dell'Ariete, Milan 1962; Byron Gallery, New York 1965-1967; Galleria L'Acquario, Nuoro 1967; Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton 1968; Galleria Il Segno, Rome 1973; Marlborough Gallery, Rome 1973; Università di Cagliari 1973; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston 1974; Galleria Duchamp, Cagliari 1976, 1982; Darmouth College, Hannover, 1978; Paule Anglim Gallery and Quay Gallery, San Francisco 1978; Washburn Gallery, New York 1985, 1987; "Forme nel Verde", S. Quirico d'Orcia 1987; several posthumous retrospectives, including Dia Foundation, Bridgehampton, 1989 and Mercati di Traiano, Rome 1994. He also participated in many group exhibitions, including: Brooklyn Museum, New York 1947; Quadriennale, Rome 1950, 1965; Riverside Museum, New York 1955; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh 1957; MOMA, New York 1958; Triennale, Milan 1959; Stable Gallery, 1959, 1977; Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris 1960; New School for Social Research, New York 1961; Sculptor's Guild, New York 1965, 1966; Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York 1965; Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, Venice 1988.
Among his main public commissions, of note are: urban design and Chiesa Sa Itria, Orani; "The Four Chaplains", War Memorial, Washington D.C.; International Legal Studies Building and Quincy House, Harvard University, Cambridge; McCormick Plaza, Chicago; several public schools in New York; Yale University; Library, University of Pennsylvania; Five State Federal Office Building, Kansas City; piazza, Nuoro; Bridgeport Post; monumental sculpture representing Italy at the Olympic Games, Mexico City 1968; Hurley House and State Office Building, Boston; Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY; Casa Satta, Quartu S. Elena, CA; Bronx Criminal Court Building, New York; Police Department of the 18th District of New York; Campo del Sole, Tuoro sul Trasimeno; Regional Council of Sardinia, Cagliari.
His works are held in renowned public collections, including: Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence; Metropolitan Museum and Whitney Museum, New York; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.; and also in many private collections, such as: Olivetti branch, New York; Hartford Insurance Company, Hartford, CT; Motorola Building, Chicago; Mobil Oil, Washington; Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, MI.He received many awards: "Certificate of Excellence", American Institute of Graphic Arts 1956; I Prize, Enrico Fermi Competition 1957; Silver Medal for Sculpture, Architectural League, New York 1962, 1965; "Certificate of Merit", Municipal Art Society, New York 1962; "Certificate Commendation", Park Association, New York 1965; Gold Medal 1967 and Fine Arts Medal 1968, AIA, New York; American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters member, New York 1972; Artist-in-Residence, American Academy, Rome 1972, 1977; Honorary Member, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, The Hague 1975; Honorary Member, Morse and Stiles Colleges, Yale University 1984; "Award for Excellence in Design", Art Commission, New York 1985. In 1995, the Museo Nivola was opened in Orani.
He stayed in Versilia several times to create his works at the Giorgio Angeli, Balderi e Tosi and Studio Sem laboratories and at the Del Chiaro, L'Arte and Mariani foundries in Pietrasanta, where a posthumous retrospective was held at the L. Russo Cultural Centre and Piazza del Duomo in 1996. He donated "Donna" to Pietrasanta, situated in Piazzetta S.Antonio in 2008.
The photographs published in the TimeLine were taken from the Museo Nivola website www.museonivola.it