Giacomo Manzù, a sculptor, medalist, graphic artist, and illustrator, was born in Bergamo on December 22, 1908. His original name was Giacamo Manzoni. He was an important twentieth-century sculptor of religious statuary.
In 1929 Manzù traveled to Paris. He decided to move to Milan in 1930. In his first group exhibitions of the following years, he met Carlo Carrà (1881 – 1966). Around the same time, Manzù received his first commissions for religious art, including statuary for the Catholic University chapel in Milan.
In 1934 the artist traveled to Rome to visit St. Peter’s. His visual impressions of this visit became the basis of a bronze of a cardinal in 1938. In 1937 his work was shown in the Galleria della Cometa in Rome. He was assigned his own section of the Venice Biennale of the following year.
From 1941 to 1954 he taught at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, where his first retrospective show was mounted in the Palazzo Reale in 1947. The same year, he entered a competition for the design of a door for St. Peter’s in Rome, and was awarded the official commission in 1952. The planned theme was “the triumph of the saints and the martyrs of the church”, but the door was never executed.
From 1954 to 1966 Manzù taught sculpture at the International Summer Academy in Salzburg. He was commissioned to design the main portal of the Salzburg Cathedral in 1955, and Pope John 23rd (1958-1963) asked him to make the “Portal of Death” for St. Peter’s cathedral. Manzù showed his work at the Kassel “documenta” exhibitions 2 and 6 in 1959 and 1977. The Manzù Museum was founded in 1969 in Ardea, near Rome.
Giacomo Manzù died in Ardea on January 17, 1991.