Pietro Cascella biography




Pietro Cascella was an Italian painter and sculptor born in Pescara on 2 February 1921 and died in 2008 in Pietrasanta. Son of art, from an early age he began to cultivate the same passion as his grandfather Basilio (1860-1950) and his sculptor father Tommaso (1890-1968), growing up in a family of artists where his brother Andrea and his uncles Gioacchino and Michele followed in the same artistic footsteps as their relatives. Pietro therefore represented the third generation of the Cascella family, now in its fifth thanks to his nephew Matteo Basilè born in 1974. The artist grew up thanks to the teachings of his father and grandfather, both painters and ceramists, in a lithographic factory in Pescara; shortly thereafter, this place would become the artistic site of the Cascella family where Pietro himself, thanks to the numerous tools he has at his disposal, will be able to learn all those techniques that will ultimately make him a unique painter and sculptor.

The young Cascella began with painting, and then he also began to develop a passion for sculpture when he moved from Pescara to Rome in 1938: it was here that he followed, together with his brother Andrea and other friends, the courses of Ferrazzi Ferruccio, an artist and teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts. Also in the capital he began to frequent the so-called Valle dell'Inferno furnace, a place where he specialized in the processing of ceramics in all its cuts. Pietro Cascella will dedicate himself, in the immediately following years, to the artistic activities proposed in the Osteria Fratelli Menghi, one of the most famous and important meeting places for painters, sculptors, poets, musicians and directors which existed between the 40s and the 70s .

It is precisely here that Pietro Cascella will meet his future wife, that is Anna Maria Cesarini Sforza, a mosaicist from Trentino, with whom he will have three children: Tommaso, Susanna and Benedetta. In 1943 he participated in the fourth edition of the Quadrennial of Rome, one of the most important contemporary art exhibitions ever.

In 1948, immediately after the war, Cascella took part in the very first edition of the Venice Biennale, where he returned a few years later. In the 1950s, together with his brother Andrea and his mosaicist wife Anna Maria, he collaborated on the creation of mosaics in honor of the so-called Cinema America hall in Rome.

During this period, Pietro Cascella will begin to become passionate about sculpture and will be strongly influenced by the Chilean artist Roberto Sebastian Matta (1911-2002): from him the young man will learn to sculpt following fashions and styles most popular surrealists at that time. His sculpture activity led him to win an important competition organized by the Venice Biennale, in which he took part a second time in 1956: it was the Auschswitz Monument designed by Cascella himself together with the architect Giorgio Simoncini . The project will initially be followed by the artist, his brother Andrea and the designer Julio Lafuente, but Pietro will subsequently decide to take it along other paths; the monument was then inaugurated in 1967 in Birkenau, one of the many places where many victims of the Holocaust rest. This work will be selected, among 426 different proposals, by important personalities of the International Auschwitz Committee such as Dmitri Shostakovich, Carlo Levi and Pablo Casals. Also present on the jury will be the poet Henry Moore and the famous art critic Lionello Venturi, who will highlight how the monument by Cascella and Simoncini represents a dramatic symbol of modern history, a history which unfortunately is not traces can be erased. It is considered one of the most important works ever by the sculptor from Pescara.

During the 60s and 70s, Pietro Cascella dedicated himself to the creation of numerous personal works, both in painting and sculpture, which he then exhibited in prestigious Italian and European galleries. In '62 he showed his ceramic projects at the Galleria dell'Obelisco in Rome, then subsequently moved with them to the Galleria del Milione in Milan; in 1965 he went to exhibit in New York at the Galleria Bonino , and then again in '66 and '72 he returned as a special guest at the Venice Biennale. In '68 Cascella also went to the Galèrie du Dragon in Paris and to the Musée d'Ixelles in Brussels. In '71 the artist will participate in the XXIII Salon de la Jeune Sculptur in the Parisian capital, then he will move to the Palais de Beaux Arts in Brussels and finally he will hold a large and very personal exhibition at the Rotonda della Besana in Milan. In '66, during his numerous travels, he met his second and future wife Cordelia von den Steinen, a famous Swiss sculptor with whom he had his second son Jacopo; he too will be an artist like the rest of the Cascella family.

From the 1980s until his death, Pietro Cascella concentrated in particular on the art of sculpture, and worked on monumental urban projects: among these, we remember the Arco della Pace of Tel Aviv, the Gate of Wisdom in Pisa, the so-called Fontana Nave in Pescara and the monument dedicated to Mazzini in Milan. It is here that his poetics will take on a real meaning: his sculptures tend towards cubism and geometric purism, and are almost always made with travertine marble and polished stones. On 20 April 2006 the artist will receive the important title of the Gold Medal for Meritorious Art and Culture. Furthermore, he will also be awarded the Order of the Minerva at the Gabriele D'Annunzio University of his hometown, Pescara.

On May 18, 2008 he will pass away in Pietrasanta. His remains will be placed in the San Silvestro cemetery in Pescara, where the other artist family members also rest. For the tenth anniversary of his death, the Escape from the Museum in Pescara project is inaugurated, entirely dedicated to the most significant sculptural works of Pietro Cascella. Other of his creations, however, are preserved and exhibited at the Basilio Cascella Civic Museum.