Mark di Suvero
Mark di Suvero
Marco Polo di Suvero
September 18, 1933
|Education||University of California, Santa Barbara (attended)|
University of California, Berkeley (B.A. 1957)
|Spouse(s)||Maria Teresa Capparotta (div.)|
Kate D. Levin (m. 1993)
|Awards||Heinz Award (2005)|
National Medal of Arts (2010)
American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal (2013)
Early life and education
Marco Polo di Suvero was born to Matilde Millo di Suvero and Vittorio di Suvero (later known as Victor E.), both Italians of Sephardic Jewish descent. Di Suvero was one of four children, the eldest being Victor di Suvero. His father was a naval attaché for the Italian government and the family resided in Shanghai until his father was relocated to Tientsin shortly after the birth of the family's last son in 1936.
Di Suvero attended City College of San Francisco from 1953 to 1954, followed by the University of California, Santa Barbara from 1954 to 1955. He began creating sculptures while at UCSB after reflecting that he couldn't make an original contribution in his philosophy major. Under the guidance of Robert Thomas, who allowed di Suvero to take his sculpting course, his work began to flourish. He transferred to the University of California, Berkeley and graduated with a B.A. in philosophy in 1957.
After graduating from college, di Suvero moved to New York City in 1957 to pursue a sculpting art career. He worked part-time in construction and began to incorporate wood and metal from demolition sites into his work.
Mark di Suvero gained an almost instant recognition among the art critics with his first solo exhibit at the Green Gallery in the fall of 1960. Arts Magazine's editor wrote «From now on nothing will be the same. One felt this at di Suvero's show. Here was a body of work at once so ambitious and intelligent, so raw and clean, so noble and accessible, that It must permanently alter our standards of artistic effort.»
Shortly thereafter, he was involved in a near-fatal elevator accident on March 26, 1960, while working at a construction site. He suffered a broken back and severe spinal injures; doctors believed he wouldn't be able to walk again. While in rehabilitation, he learned to work with an arc welder which became critical for later pieces. He made a recovery in four years and could walk without assistance by 1965. He is one of the sixteen artists included in the book Chronicles of Courage: Very Special Artists as a result of this accident and the subsequent effect it had upon his health.
Di Suvero protested the Vietnam War, for which he was twice arrested, before he left the United States in 1971. During his four-year self-exile, he exhibited his works in the Netherlands and Germany, taught at the Università Internazionale dell'Arte, and lived in Chalon-sur-Saône, France where he maintained one of his studios on a barge until 1989. His French barge, Rêve de signes, has since been turned into La Vie des Formes, an atelier for emerging artists, which has been moored at Montceau-les-Mines since 2009.
In 1975, his sculptures were exhibited in the Tuileries Garden in Paris. He later returned to the United States and opened a studio in Petaluma, California in 1975. While the Petaluma studio is still active, di Suvero moved to New York City and opened a studio there.
In 1976, the Whitney Museum of American Art housed a retrospective exhibition of di Suvero's smaller structures, while the city of New York exhibited some of his larger sculptures all around town.His 1966 sculpture, Praise for Elohim Adonai, was erected in front of the Seagram Building.
Di Suvero currently lives in the Astoria, Queens neighborhood of New York City with his second wife, Kate D. Levin, whom he married in 1993, and daughter. Levin, a former City College of New York teacher, served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs from 2002 to 2013, and has worked under the Ed Koch and Michael Bloomberg administrations. Di Suvero was previously married to architect Maria Teresa Caparrotta, whom he met while living in Italy, but later divorced.
His early works were large outdoor pieces that incorporated wooden timbers from demolition buildings, tires, scrap metal and structural steel. This exploration has transformed over time into a focus on H-beams and heavy steel plates. Many of the pieces contain sections that are allowed to swing and rotate giving the overall forms a considerable degree of motion. He prides himself on his hands-on approach to the fabrication and installation of his work. Di Suvero pioneered the use of a crane as a sculptor's working tool.
His style is associated with the abstract expressionism movement, but directly evokes the spirit of the Russian post-revolution constructivism. Constructivism is strongly associated with concepts of an utopian socialist reconstruction, but came crashing down when the Stalin and Hitler empires failed. Di Suvero is the first artist post-war to revive the contructivist movement. The sculptures can be touched, and they are resistant enough to be climbed on.
Some of his work includes:
- Pre-Columbian (1964), acquired by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in 2000
- Poland (1966)
- Are Years What? (for Marianne Moore) (1967)
- Snowplow (1968)
- The Lovers (1971-1973)
- The Calling (1981-1982)
- Iroquois (1983)
- Aurora (1992-1993), purchased by the National Gallery of Art from the Gagosian Gallery (NY) in 1996
- Galileo (1996), acquired by the Daimler Art Collection in 1998
- Joie de Vivre (1998)
- The Sieve of Eratosthenes (1999), Stanford University
- Clock Knot (2007)
Di Suvero's sculptures and career were the subjects of the 1977 film, North Star: Mark di Suvero. The film was produced by François De Menil and by art historian Barbara Rose, and featured music composed by Philip Glass. The film was released as a DVD in 2012.
Some critics defy the novelty of di Suvero's art, arguing he just inflated an established concept to greater dimensions. In 1975, William Rubin argued he merely vulgarized the style of abstract expressionism set forth by Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline.
Honors and awards
- 2000: International Sculpture Center's Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award
- 2005: Winner in the Arts and Humanities category at the 11th Annual Heinz Awards, which came with a $250,000 prize.
- 2013: American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal
- "Mark di Suvero and di Suvero family papers, 1934-2005". aaa.si.edu. Archives of American Art. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- "Mark di Suvero Luce Artist Biography". aaa.si.edu. Archives of American Art. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- Monte, James K. (November 1975). Mark di Suvero. New York City, New York: Whitney Museum of American Art. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- "Mark di Suvero, Art World's 'Last Heroic Figure'". The Ledger. 71 (270). Lakeland, Florida. July 16, 1978. pp. 37–38. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- "NEW PARTNERSHIP LAUNCHES SFMOMA'S OFF-SITE PROGRAMMING WITH MAJOR OUTDOOR EXHIBITION OF MARK DI SUVERO'S SCULPTURES NEAR GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE". sfmoma.org. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. December 12, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- "Heinz Awards Mark di Suvero biography". heinzawards.net. Heinz Foundations. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- Hilton Kramer, A playful storm of sculpture, Nytimes.com, 25 January 1976
- Kirwin, Liza. "Art and Space: Park Place and the beginning of the Paula Cooper Gallery". aaa.si.edu. Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- "Reimagining Space: The Park Place Gallery Group in 1960s New York". blantonmuseum.org. Blanton Museum of Art. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- Dawson, Jessica (September 2, 2014). "At 80, Sculptor Mark Di Suvero Is Still Mixing It Up in New York". The Wall Street Journal. New York City, New York. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- Bennett, Don (June 5, 2013). "Petaluma home to famous artist". The Press Democrat. Santa Rosa, California. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- Castro, Jan Garden (June 2005). "To Make Meanings Real: A Conversation with Mark di Suvero". Sculpture. International Sculpture Center. 24 (5). Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- Roux, Camille; Berry, Gilles (May 5, 2013). "Bateau logement pour artistes". Le Journal de Saône-et-Loire (in French). Chalon-sur-Saône, France. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- "Kate D. Levin named first fellow of National Center for Arts Research at SMU". smu.edu. Southern Methodist University. February 11, 2014. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- Mark Di Suvero's Path to Steel. May 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- Pre-Columbian, Art.famsf.org
- Aurora - 1992-1993, Nga.gov
- Mark di Suvero - Galileo, 1996, Art.daimler.com
- "Clock Knot 2007". landmarks.utexas.edu. The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
- "Philip Glass: Music". unvagen Music Publishers. Retrieved 2015-07-22.
- North Star: Mark di Suvero on IMDb
- Stewart, James A. (April 19, 2012). "North Star: Mark di Suvero". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on July 22, 2015.
- Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field, Sfmoma.org, May 2013
- "The International Sculpture Center's Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award". sculpture.org. International Sculpture Center. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- Sisario, Ben, ed. (May 2, 2005). "Arts, Briefly: Heinz Awards". The New York Times. New York City, New York. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- "Smithsonian Announces Archives of American Art Medal Recipients" (Press release). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art. October 6, 2010. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- "Mark di Suvero Among 2010 National Medal of Arts Recipients Announced by the White House". artdaily.com. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- "President Obama to Award 2010 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal" (Press release). Washington, D.C.: White House Office of the Press Secretary. March 1, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- "President Obama Presents Arts, Humanities Awards To Meryl Streep, James Taylor". huffingtonpost.com. The Huffington Post. March 2, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- Schuessler, Jennifer (May 15, 2013). "E.L. Doctorow and Mark di Suvero Strike Gold at American Academy of Arts and Letters". The New York Times. New York City, New York. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
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