Carla Lavatelli

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Carla Lavatelli
Portrait Carla.png
Carla Lavatelli at Cidonio Foundation
Born(1928-08-21)August 21, 1928
DiedJanuary 18, 2006(2006-01-18) (aged 77)
Known forSculpture, Stone Carving, Silk and Paper Installations, Jewelry

Carla Lavatelli (August 21, 1928 – January 18, 2006) was an Italian-American artist whose career spanned five decades, from the 1950s into the 21st century.[1][2] Her work resides in the permanent collections of several major museums, including the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Phillips Collection in Washington DC, the Hakone Open-Air Museum in Japan, and the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.[3][4][5][6] She was noted primarily for her abstract sculptures in stone and bronze, which appeared in reproduction in such publications as Arts Magazine, Art in America, and Artforum during the late 1960s and early 1970s.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17]


Carla Lavatelli was born in Rome, Italy in 1928 and spent much of her childhood being raised in Africa.[18] She returned to Italy to study literature at Ca' Foscari University of Venice.[19] After marrying an American and moving to California, she subsequently divorced and returned to Italy, wheres she began a practice of creating sculptural portraits in Rome. A self-taught artist, Lavatelli was commercially successful at her portraiture, winning several important commissions for notable sitters, among them Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, and her three children in 1969.[19][20] In 1981, she was married the former Italian Formula 1 racecar driver Roberto Vallone.[21] In the late 1960s and early 70s, Lavatelli participated in the “Officina Cidonio,” a non-profit organization in the Tuscan town of Pietrasanta for artists who sculpted in stone, where for a time she worked alongside the sculptor Isamu Noguchi and met the artists Henry Moore, Marino Marini, and Jacques Lipschitz.[22] The organization had been founded by Erminio Cidonio, who invited prominent sculptors such as Moore, Lipschitz, and Jean Arp to have their work enlarged in the Henraux workshops in Querceta beginning in the 1950s.[23] Upon Cidonio's death in 1971, Lavatelli purchased and restored a 16th-century olive mill in the nearby town of Camaiore, which became her home and studio for the next four decades.[24]


During the 1960s and 70s, Lavatelli exhibited frequently in the United States. In 1968-69, Lavatelli exhibited her sculptural works, including her fountain, “The Rainbow,” at the Palm Beach Galleries in Palm Beach, Florida.[25][26] She also had a series of exhibitions of her work at the Selected Artists Gallery in New York City in 1968 and 1970.[27][28] She continued to exhibit in New York over the following decade. Beginning in the mid-1970s, she began exhibiting with Gimpel Weitzenhoffer Gallery, where she showed her granite and marble pieces as well several floor sculptures.[29] Many of the abstract works that Lavatelli produced alongside Erminio Cidonio at the Officina in Pietrasanta were exhibited in major museums early the 1970s. In 1972, for example, Lavatelli's sculptures were exhibited at the Hakone Open-Air Museum in Hakone, Japan, which subsequently acquired one of her works for its permanent collection.[5] Two years later, six of Lavatelli's sculptures were exhibited at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC.[30] One work, Ginko Biloba (1968) was subsequently acquired for the Phillips' permanent collection.[4]


Carla Lavatelli's sculptures reside in many prominent museum and private collections across the United States and Europe, as well as in public and communal spaces and university campuses. Notable examples include her first abstract work, Ginko Biloba (1971), carved from red Persian travertine, which is located in the Phillips Collection in Washington DC.[4] The work had been gifted to the Phillips by Lavatelli in 1974,on the occasion of her exhibition there the same year.[30] Other important works include Stele For a Prayer (1971), a monolithic work in white Carrara marble and slate in the collectin of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.[3] Her carved stone and silver jewelry, which she called "Sculptures to Wear" are in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.[31] Several versions of Lavatelli's large-scale abstract sculpture in bronze and stainless steel, 1 ½ (1969–70), are in the museum collections of American universities, including Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA and Brown University in Providence, RI.[6] Originally installed on the Stanford campus in front of the law school, the sculpture was restored in 1996 by Lavatelli and relocated to Fairchild Chapel.[32] At Brown, 1 ½ has been on view in front of the brutalist high-rise Science Library building since it was installed there in 1975.[33] Bill Van Siclen, an arts writer for the Providence Journal, remarked in a 2007 article that Lavatelli’s 1 ½ resembled a “giant chrome-plated engine part,” and that “had she not become a sculptor, the Italian-born Lavatelli clearly had a future as a sports car designer.”[34] In 1978, Lavatelli was commissioned to install a spherical bronze sculpture in a newly created pond at the Botanical Gardens in Freiburg, Germany, which she titled Golden Pond, and which is still on view.[35] During the 1990s, she presented several temporary and permanent site-specific installations, including "happenings" involving paper and reed sculptures in Pistoia, Italy and New York City. In 1995, the town of Mougins, France commissioned her to create a stone bench installation with a fountain set into a rough-hewn travertine for the plaza of the Place du Banc des Amis off the Rue d'Eglisse.[36] She was presented with the town's honorary Gold Medal upon its unveiling in 1995.[1]

Notable works by Carla Lavatelli[edit]

  • Portrait of Princess Grace of Monoco (1969), Monoco, France
    Princess Grace posing for Carla Lavatelli - 1969
  • "Sculptures to Wear" (1969), Minneapolis Institute of Art [37]
  • "Stele for a Prayer" (1971), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA[3]
Stele for a Prayer - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - 1971
  • Hakone Open-Air Sculpture Garden (1972), Hakone, Japan
  • "Ginko Biloba" (1974), The Phillips Collection, Washington DC
    Ginko Biloba - Philips Collection, Washington, D.C. - 1974
  • "Golden Pond" (1973), Botanical Garden, Freiburg im Bresgau, Germany
  • "1½"(1975), Stanford University, CA[6]
  • "Little Roof Big Sun" (1979–80), Private Collection[38]
  • "1½" (1985), Brown University, Providence RI
    '1 1/2' - Brown University - Providence, RI - 1985
  • Paper Installation: "Happening for a Prayer" (1995), Pistoia, Italy
    'Happening for a Prayer' - San Giovanni Batista Church - Pistoia,Italy 1991
  • "La Place du Banc des Amis" (1995), Mougins, France
    Carla with her creation - Place du Banc des Amis - Mougins, France - 1995
  • "The Wave" (2014), Collezione Gori, Fattoria di Celle, Pistoia, Italy
    The Wave - Gori Collection - Celle, Italy - 2014
  • "Swirling Seagulls or Une Ronde de Mouettes" (2014) Mougins, France
    Ronde de Mouettes in Mougins 2014 - flying over the plain of Grasse with Castellaras in the background

One-Woman exhibitions[edit]

  • 1959 - Galleria Russo, Rome, Italy
  • 1960-1964 - Sari Heller Gallery, Beverly Hills, California
  • 1965 - Palazzo Cerio, Capri, Italy
  • 1966 - Galleria "Il Carpine", Rome, Italy
  • 1967 - Galleria degli Argenti, Milano, Italy
  • 1967 - Galleria La Vernice, Bari, Italy
  • 1969-1975 - Palm Beach Galleries, Palm Beach, Florida
  • 1969 - Herbert Kende Gallery, New York, New York
  • 1970 - Galerie Motte, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1970 - Benjamin Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1970 - Galerie Moos, Montreal, Canada
  • 1970 - Desert Museum, Palm Springs, California
  • 1971 - Sari Heller Gallery, Beverly Hills, California
  • 1972 - Alexander Iolas, New York, New York
  • 1972 - Hakone Open Air Museum, Hakone, Japan
  • 1974 - The Philips Collection, Washington, D.C.
  • 1976 - Gimpel Weitzenhofer, New York, New York
  • 1995 - Pecci Museum, Fondazione Gori, Prato, Italy

Honors and accomplishments[edit]

  • 1968 - Invited to work at the 'Officina Cidonio', a non-profit organization for artists in Pietrasanta, Italy. She is the youngest of the group, and the only woman.
  • 1969 - Carla is commissioned to do a life-size bronze portrait of Princess Grace of Monaco and her three children for the Palace in Monaco.
  • 1970 - Carla has her first solo exhibition of marble sculptures and bronze-stainless steel abstractions in Japan at the Hakone Museum.
  • 1972 - A documentary is filmed about Carla working at the 75th Street studio by Josh Gawronsky in New York, NY.
  • 1975 - The sculpture “1 ½” is dedicated by President Gerald Ford on the campus of Stanford University, CA.
  • 1975 - “Stele For a Prayer” is acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA.
  • 1976-96 Opens her SoHo studio at 140 Thompson Street, New York, NY.
  • 1980-82 Exhibits "The Life of a Boomerang" and "Stele for a Prayer" at the Einstein Institute of Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey.
  • 1985 - Lavatelli self-publishes “The Work of Carla Lavatelli by Carla Lavatelli... 1970-1984”.
  • 1986 - Invited to create a paper happening, "Festa," at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York City, to celebrate Centennial of the Cathedral with a Bach concert.
  • 1989 - Lavatelli's home and studio in Camaiore, Italy is featured in the Italian Architectural Digest series: “Sculptors in Their Studio.”
  • 1993 - Inaugurates a photographic exhibit, "4 Photographes et Carla Lavatelli," at the Picasso Museum of Photography in Mougins, France.
  • 1994 - Invited to exhibit her alabaster carving "The Light and the Limit" at the St. Augustine church and cloister in Pietrasanta, Italy
  • 1995 - Hangs her weavings outdoors at the Musée Renoir in Cagnes sur Mer, France between the olive trees. Ephemeral event is called "Parmis Les Oliviers."
  • 1995 - Awarded the Gold medal honorary award of the City of Mougins, France.
  • 1995 - Awarded commission for a photographic project commemorating the United Nations Project for Peace 50th Anniversary.
  • 1998 - Creates cope, high altar cloth & processional banner using raw, handmade Indian silks for Easter celebration in San Francisco, CA.


  1. ^ a b "Carla Lavatelli Bibliography". artnet.
  2. ^ "CLARA: National Registry of Women Artists". Washington, DC: National Museum of Women Artists.
  3. ^ a b c Carla Lavatelli (1972). "Stele For A Prayer". San Francisco, CA: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Permanent Collection.
  4. ^ a b c "Ginko Biloba". Washington DC: The Phillips Collection. 1971.
  5. ^ a b "Exhibition catalog: Carla Lavatelli". Hakone, Japan: Hakone Open-Air Museum. 1972.
  6. ^ a b c Carla Lavatelli (1969–70). "1 ½". Stanford, CA: Cantor Arts Center.
  7. ^ "Lavatelli bronzes", Arts Magazine, 43: 65, December 1968, Art Index retrospective (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost(accessed June 27, 2014)
  8. ^ "Abstract sculpture", Art in America, 58: 26, February 1970, Art Index Retrospective (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed June 27, 2014)
  9. ^ "Circular abstract metal sculpture", Connoisseur, 175: 11, November 1970, Art Index Retrospective (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed June 27, 2014)
  10. ^ "Sculpture", Connaissance des arts, 225: 59, November 1970, Art Index Retrospective (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed June 27, 2014)
  11. ^ Brown, G. (November 1970), "Selected artists gallery, New York: exhibition", Arts Magazine, 45: 67, Art Index Retrospective (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed June 27, 2014)
  12. ^ "Rectilinear metal sculpture resting on a ball", Artforum, 9: 16, November 1970, Art Index Retrospective (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed June 27, 2014)
  13. ^ "Relief", Art in America, 59: 19, January 1971, Art Index Retrospective (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed June 27, 2014)
  14. ^ "Forms and Sculpture of 2 Wings", Art in America, 60: 4, 26, January 1972, Art Index Retrospective (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed June 27, 2014)
  15. ^ "Sculpture", Art in America, 61: Inside back cover, January 1973, Art Index Retrospective (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed June 27, 2014)
  16. ^ "Two abstract forms with center holes", Apollo: The international Magazine for Collectors, 95: 53,71, May 1972, Art Index Retrospective (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost(accessed June 27, 2014)
  17. ^ "Vertical thrust", Art International (Archive Press), 17: 17, February 1973, Art Index Retrospective (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed June 27, 2014)
  18. ^ Carla Lavatelli (1984), "The Work of Carla Lavatelli by Carla Lavatelli, 1970-1984", The Work of Carla Lavatelli, New York: ABBA International
  19. ^ a b "Carla Lavatelli: Chronology".
  20. ^ Alain Dartigues (March 13, 2006). "Les sculptures de Carla Lavatelli en deuil". Paris Cote-d'Azur Magazine.
  21. ^ "Harris County, Texas Marriage Records". State of Texas.
  22. ^ "'Laboratio Officina'" (in Italian). Pietrasanta, Italy: Museo Bozzetti.
  23. ^ "Henraux Marble Workshops, 1950s - 1970s". Querceta, Italy: Fondazione Henraux Museum.
  24. ^ "Carla Lavatelli: Friend of Stone and Water (Amica della peitra e dell'acqua: E ammidata tra la Versilia e le Apuane la casa-studio di una scultrice" (PDF), Architectural Digest (in Italian): 122–130, March 1989
  25. ^ "Lavatelli bronzes", Arts Magazine (43), p. 65, December 1968
  26. ^ "PB Galleries Showing Sculptress Lavatelli". Palm Beach Daily News. February 16, 1969.
  27. ^ New York Magazine. 1968.
  28. ^ Brown, G. (November 1970), "Selected artists galleries, New York: Exhibition review", Arts Magazine (45), p. 67
  29. ^ Weitzenhoffer, Gimpel (1976). Lavatelli. New York, NY: Gimpel Weitzenhoffer. pp. 2–3.
  30. ^ a b Passantino, Erika D. and David W. Scott, eds. (1998), "Exhibitions at the Phillips Collection, 1919-1998" (PDF), The Eye of Duncan Phillips: A Collection in the Making, Washington DC: The Phillips Collection, p. 44
  31. ^ "Sculptures to Wear: Jewelry by Carla Lavatelli". Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis Institute of Arts Permanent Collection. Archived from the original on 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2014-07-05.
  32. ^ "Carla Lavatelli's sculpture installed, May 21, 1997". The Stanford Report.
  33. ^ Carla Lavatelli (1969–70). "1 ½" (PDF). Providence, RI: Brown University. See section 'D4' on the map.
  34. ^ "COVER STORY - Art for all outdoors - Three walking tours take people to Rhode Island's art al fresco", Providence Journal, June 7, 2007, LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 2014/05/31.
  35. ^ Carla Lavatelli (1978). "Golden Pond'". Freiburg, Germany: Universität Freiburg.
  36. ^ "Cultural and tourist sites in Mougins, France". Côte d'Azur, France: Côte d'Azur: The Coast, Resorts and Villages.
  37. ^ Minneapolis Institute of Art. "Neckpiece". Minneapolis Institute of Art. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  38. ^ Carla Lavatelli (March 1990), "Little roof big sun", New Criterion, 8

External links[edit]