Mark di Suvero: Artist Portrait

Mark di Suvero

Born 1933.
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Mark di Suvero Biography

The sculptural works of artist Mark di Suvero are regarded as both crucial within the development of Abstract Expressionism as well as sculpture. Working largely with scrap metal, di Suvero takes his materials from damaged or demolished buildings to produce large-scale sculptures, often for public or outdoor spaces. His works function within a matrix of paradoxes: fragility and bulk, movement and rigidity and perspective and objectivity.

Di Suvero was born to Italian parents in 1933 in Shanghai, and spent his early childhood in China, as his father was a naval attaché for Italy in Shanghai and later Tientsin. The family immigrated to San Francisco, California, at the beginning of World War II, and he eventually studied at City College of San Francisco and the University of California, Santa Barbara, before transferring and completing his degree at the University of California, Berkeley. Upon moving to New York City in 1957, he began working in construction, which led him to begin experimenting with sculpture using the scrap materials he pulled from the demolition sites he commonly worked in. His works synthesized Soviet Constructivism and American Abstract Expressionism aesthetically through the use of such materials as tires, steel and wood, and, over time, his sculptures became increasingly physically stronger and more substantial. He sustained serious spinal injuries in an elevator accident in 1960, and was told he would never walk again; within four years, though, he was able to walk unassisted. During his recovery, he began experimenting with arc welding, which contributed the further evolution of his working practices.

Di Suvero had his first solo exhibition in 1960, and was recognized early for his contribution to Abstract Expressionism and American sculpture. His many accolades include the 2000 International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award, the 2010 National Medal of Arts awarded by US President Barack Obama, the 2010 Medal of the Archives of American Art, and the 2013 American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal. His works now appear in public spaces all over the world, have been exhibited in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris and the Seagram Building in New York, and appear in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others.

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