Remo Rossi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Remo Rossi
Born(1909-09-27)27 September 1909
Locarno, Switzerland
Died30 December 1982(1982-12-30) (aged 73)
Bern, Switzerland
EducationAccademia di Belle Arti di Brera, École des Beaux-Arts
Known forSculpture, painting

Remo Rossi (27 September 1909 – 30 December 1982) was a renowned Swiss sculptor, living and operating in Locarno (Ticino, Switzerland).


A Family of "marmorini" from Arzo to Locarno[edit]

Remo Rossi was born in Locarno on September 27, 1909. Both the father (Ettore) and grandfather (Gualtiero) of Remo belonged to a family of Arzo (Ticino, Switzerland) and were active as marmor artisans and sculptors (called in Italian marmorini). The mother of Remo was from a Jacometti family of Intra (a small city on the Italian part of the Lago Maggiore).

The uncle of mother's side (Nesto Jacometti, graphic designer and collectionist) shall be for Remo an important link with the French cultural world. In the main church of Arzo (built in 1600) already the grand-grandfather Antonio had constructed the Pulpito marmoreo. The records indicate the grand-grandfather died in Locarno in 1898, thus suggesting that the family moved from Arzo already in the early 19th century. The grandfather Gualtiero was born himself in Locarno in 1852, where he died in 1930. The father Ettore constructed his first Atelier (workshop) just below his house located in Piazza Castello. Needing to work on much larger stone blocks, he constructed another Atelier in the location known as Saleggi. These rooms became later on the headquarters of the architectural studio Casetta.

Early studies: from Luzern to Milano to Paris[edit]

After finishing the obligatory schools in 1924, Remo continued the studies at the high school of Sankt Michael in Zug and in 1925 he was a pupil of professor Joseph von Moos at the Kunstgewerbeschule of Luzern. The essential phase of his training was during the studies in Milano from 1926, where he enrolled at the Accademia di Brera where in 1926 he followed the drawing courses of Contardo Barbieri and the anatomy courses of professor Biaggi, but refused to follow the sculpture lectures of Wildt. At the same time he worked in the private workshop of Ernesto Bazzaro (1859–1937) and followed courses at the architectural high school at the Castello sforzesco under the guidance of professor Mariani. His first works were evidently impregnated by an academic style: first of all the large sculpture Memento mori (1930).

After several study travels to Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples, and Venice he settled for one year in Paris in 1932. Here he encountered Alberto Martíni and Gino Severini with whom he shall later collaborate in 1950 for the decoration of the Church the Capucins of Sion.

While in Paris, Remo followed the courses of Paul Landowski at the Académie Nationale des Beaux-Arts as well as the lectures of Charles Despiau at the Académie Scandinave. Despiau invited Remo to work in his own atelier. Fruit of that period were the works exhibited at the Salon de Printemps in 1933.

Back to Locarno[edit]

In 1934 Remo comes back to Locarno and will elect his birthplace to the preferred place for his activity, interrupting it by frequent but rather short study travels to Munich, Nürnberg, Berlin and Paris (académie Scandinave and Académie Nationale des Beaux-Arts).

From the Paris' experience, specially inspired by Aristide Maillol, we shall remember bathing feminine figures of generous shapes, as well as several cemeterial works consisting of young women caught in posture of prayer and sorrow, such as Donna che accende un lumino (1933–34), or the Meditazione (today visible in Ascona) or other works in the cemeteries of Bellinzona and locarno.

In 1943 Remo married Bianca Bernasconi. Their son Giancarlo was born in 1944.

The works of that period have profoundly marked the public space of the Cantone Ticino, such as the Minerva (1941) placed at the Cantonal library of Lugano; the Monument to Giuseppe Motta close to the railroad station of Bellinzona; the Foca (1945, sea lion) located in the center of the fountain facing the governmental building in Bellinzona, and the Pegaso, a several tons sculpture posted in 1956 at 100 feet height on the governmental building itself.

Most representative works[edit]

In the Giardini Rusca of Locarno we can still admire the Toro (bull, 1953) donated to the city in 1975 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Locarno's Pact.

Close to the Toro we find also the Bagnante (bathing woman, 1954) placed in the corresponding fountain. Besides the above two sculptures that characterize his native city, we shall cite also the San Carlo Borromeo a cavallo of the year 1980, placed at the entrance of the public retirement home in Via Vallemaggia.

In the municipal building of Locarno the sculpture Concerto (1956) was donated from the foundation Remo Rossi in September 2009 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the artist. Another copy of the bronze Concerto is displayed at the Palazzo dei congressi in Lugano.

Just outside the railroad station of Chiasso one can admire Remo's Acrobata (1958) that stays in equilibrium on a single hand. On the gardens along the lake shore of Lugano we can admire a copy of the Pavone in filigrana style, analogously adopted for the Storie della vita della Vergine in the Chapel of Villa Erica in Locarno. The cemeteries of the main towns of the Cantone Ticino host a great number of stone or bronze sculptures of Remo Rossi, and in several cases there are replicas of an initial project.

In the period between 1950 and 1972 Remo Rossi accomplished several study travels in Spain, Greece, Belgium, England, Turkey, France, Austria, Hungary and Russia.

Here below a list of the works of Remo Rossi that are publicly visible outside the territory of Ticino: - Place, Title, Year - List to be completed

The Ateliers: belly button of fine arts in Locarno[edit]

In 1959 Remo Rossi began constructing his complex of Ateliers in via Nessi. These ateliers became the gathering point of local and international artists and hosted famous names who became closed friends of Remo such as Jean Arp, Otto Charles Bänniger, Jacob Probst, Hans Richter Fritz Glarner, Italo Valenti, Ingeborg Lüscher, Gudrun Müller, Marco Gurtner, Pedro Pedrazzini and many others.

Relevant public duties[edit]

From 1962 to 1972 Remo Rossi assumed the duty of general officer for Switzerland at the Biennale di Venezia. In 1965 he promotes the Contemporary arts museum at the Castello visconteo, museum of which he became curator. This museum was started also thanks to the donation by the Arp's to whom Remo was bound by a profound friendship. The works displayed at that museum represent one of the highest points in the city's arts collection.

In 1966 Remo Rossi became member of the Board of the foundation Pro Arte and in 1969 he became also member of the Board of the foundation Gottfried Keller. In 1948 Remo became member of the Swiss federal commission for fine arts, commission of whom he became vice-president from 1954 and then president from 1969 until 1979. Some of his critical circles have defined that presidency period as conducted with "dictatorial" attitude by Remo Rossi. Knowing the robust character of Remo, this definition is not that much surprising.

A half century career[edit]

Remo Rossi participated to a very large number of collective exhibits, both in Switzerland and abroad, and he was granted numerous awards in his over fifty years of artistic career. The last exhibit in chronological order was at the Villa Malpensata in Lugano just after his death (1983).

Remo Rossi died in Bern in 1982 and was buried in the cemetery of Locarno in the family tomb that is overwhelmed by the Croce fiorita (flowering cross, 1968) sculpted by Remo himself. A redimensioned version of the Croce fiorita was an official gift of the Swiss Confederation to Pope Paul VI when he visited Geneva in 1969.

Style and impact[edit]

The style of Remo Rossi was modified over the years from the pure academic level of the 1930s and 1940s which was maximally expressed in the feminine nudes and with the rounded shapes of large animals. Remo then progressed to more geometric and rigid shapes in several Opere di arte sacra, in the Acrobati, and in scenes portraying humans and animals. The de-materialisation observable in the latest works seem to be inspired by the shapes typical of Alberto Giacometti in which the plasticity loses compactness and where the empty spaces prevail over the filled spaces.

Remo Rossi was mostly appreciated for his cemeterial art as well as for his highly visible art pieces that decorated several public buildings in Ticino and in Switzerland and ultimately also for the numerous commemoration coins that were mandated to him by the Federal, Cantonal and Communal public authorities.

Several extremely famous artists (see under Biography) have corresponded with Remo Rossi, or were close friends, or visited him or sojourned in his Ateliers or at his house in Locarno. Very frequently his wife Bianca had to cook risotto or spaghetti even late at night for some improvised illustrious guests. In fact Remo Rossi has been part of the magnetic attraction for intellectuals and artists of the region of Locarno over the years 1930-1980.

The Foundation Remo Rossi[edit]

The Foundation Remo Rossi (FRR, Locarno is a non-profit association with the purpose of promoting and valorising the Work and the Artistic Heritage of the famous sculptor of Locarno Remo Rossi.

The FRR has also the intention to offer to young artists who have been granted Swiss federal fellowships or to Ticino's students who have accomplished their studies at the Brera's academy (or with analogous training), the possibility of residing and working in the ateliers of the Saleggi, once these latter will be conveniently restructured.

The purpose is to revive the spirit of the ancient "Via dei marmi" (today "Via A. Nessi"). With this, one should be able to recapitulate the artistical-cultural ambiente which rotated around the character and charisma of Remo Rossi towards the beginning of the sixties.

The Foundation has already opened a provisory Museum (Museo Remo Rossi) and in the mid term will make also accessible the extremely rich Art's collection of Remo and a Documentation center. All these shall be situated in the family house of Remo Rossi in Via Rusca in Locarno.

The Foundation has been started by following the will of Remo's son Giancarlo who died in 2008. If you have any informations or questions concerning Remo Rossi we encourage you to contact the Foundation though its web site.


  • Luigi Carluccio (Hrsg.): Remo Rossi. (Deutsch und Italienisch, Texte: Piero Bianconi und Paul Erni). Edizioni Casagrande Bellinzona, ABC Verlag, Zürich 1978, ISBN 3-85504-051-6
  • Paul Erni: Tage mit Remo Rossi. Locarno 1975, ISBN 3-518-38600-X
  • Diana Bettoni, Remo Rossi scultore interprete della cultura ticinese, in Bollettino della Società storica locarnese, Locarno 2004, 21-34.
  • AA.VV., Guida d'arte della Svizzera italiana, Edizioni Casagrande, Bellinzona 2007, 29, 34, 36, 39, 42, 74, 119, 144, 154, 175, 211, 212, 244, 246, 310, 317, 335, 400, 407, 431.
  • Diana Rizzi, Remo Rossi scultore: l'uomo, l'artigiano e l'artista, in Rivista di Locarno, Locarno agosto-settembre 2009, 27-29.
  • Manuela Camponovo, Remo Rossi, il talento nelle mani, intervista a Diana Rizzi, in Giornale del Popolo, 19 dicembre 2009, 23.

External links[edit]