The Medusa Pontinia by Marta Sammartini (1900-1954) is perhaps the artist’s masterpiece. Exhibited at the 1938 Biennale, this graceful female nude is in a Classical tradition in which one can clearly see the influence of Canova.
The sculptor Toni Lucarda (1904-1994) is represented by four polychrome terracotta works from the 30s and 40s; imbued with a magical realism, these are just some of the rich collection of works donated by the artist’s family.
The female Bather by Giuseppe Romanelli (1916-1982) dates from the 50s. Perhaps one of the most important works by this Venetian artist, the large plaster figure reveals his command not only of figurative art but also of the notions that inspired Spatialism.
Then come a number of works which represent Veneto ceramicists who from the 1950s onwards also worked in the area of sculpture, their exhibits at the various Biennales helping to make the Italian Pavilion a benchmark in decorative arts and design.
Pompeo Pianezzola (1925) is represented by one of his large black ceramic slabs; Alessio Tasca (1929), by Cosmagon (1992), a work of sculpture produced using the extrusion process; Federico Bonaldi (1933) by a very recent work that exemplifies the unmistakable fable-like qualities in his sculpture; and Candido Fior (1942) by his Campiello (1970), which brings together sublime craftsmanship and Conceptualism in a ‘rendition’ of the magical space of the city’s campi.
Alongside the works of the ceramicists, the donations also include a polychrome sculpture by Lee Babel (1940), a German artist who works in the Veneto and aims to bring together the lessons of the Bauhaus with the craft traditions of Italian Renaissance majolica.
One of the leading figures in the Informal Art movement of the 50s and 60s, the Tuscan Mino Taffei (1922) is represented by A Precarious Dialogue between Two Blindmen on a Mountain. An entire room at the 1995 Biennale was dedicated to the work of this artist who is a master of the improvised or theatrical gesture, capturing the vital force of his materials within even just a small space.
A pupil of Ossyp Zadkine, the Bassano-born Natalino Andolfatto (1933) is represented by Fleur (1990), in which the great traditions of Cubism and Futurism are explored in what is essentially a challenge to those who doubt that monumental sculpture is still possible.
The Hyper-Ovum Spaziale by Mirella Bentivoglio (1922) develops upon the themes already broached in her books-as-objects. A leading figure in ‘visual poetry’ since the 60s, she is particularly interested in the borderline between language and image.
The medium favoured by Pino Guzzonato (1941) is paper, produced directly from cloth or the pulp of precious woods; this can be seen in his Ianua, one of his many works in the form of ‘casts’.
The Verona-born artist Pino Castagna (1932) is known for his large-scale works; his Barbed Wire (1984), a model for a monument to the Shoah in Jerusalem, reveals the powerful ancestral symbolism in his own particular form of the abstract.
The English artist Michael Nobel (1919-1993) lived for a long time in Italy, working (along with Pino Castagna) on the Villa Borletti project of ceramics for and with mental patients in the 1960s. In the immediate post-war period he had close links with Venice thanks to his friendships with Peggy Guggenheim and the Volpi family, producing works in which he courageously measured his own art against that of his masters, Moore and Chadwick.The bronze – Marisa (1952) –donated by Lucio Pozzi,is inspired by a famous ballerina of the Fenice in the 1950s.
And, finally, there is the Neo-classical Head by Fernando Botero (1932), a recent donation to Ca’ Pesaro.