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Beniamino Benevenuto Bufano (American/Italian, 1898-1970)

Sculptures

Also known as:  Beniamino Bufano

Birth Place: San Fele, Italy

Biography:

Who is sculptor Beniamino Bufano?

Beniamino Bufano was an Italian sculptor whose work often featured modernist takes on animals and other smooth shapes. He often worked using ceramics, stainless steel, or mosaics -- often combining several of these elements together into mixed media pieces. He also experimented with cast stone replicas for much of his work. While a native of Italy, Bufano lived in Northern California for much of his adult life. He was a student of life, whose tempestuous nature often received as much fame as his artwork. That said, he was recognized by many as a great artisan and craftsman and his work is still revered today -- fifty years after the artist’s death.

His work was well regarded by critics and casual art fans. Perhaps his most famous fan was Theodore Roosevelt, who called the artist “Bennie” and said he would like to meet the sculptor after viewing Bufano’s sculpture, The Group (1915). He traveled the world several times and exhibited solo shows often, including at the Arden Galleries of New York City. He was awarded a studio space and assistants through the Federal Art Project for his piece Aquatic Park and served on the San Francisco Art Commission from 1944-1948.

What kind of art did Beniamino Bufano make?

Beniamino Bufano made large-scale modernist sculptures. Often these sculptures depicted smooth, rounded versions of animals or other simple shapes. These works often utilized several different mediums, including ceramics, stainless steel, and stone. He was awarded public commissions often throughout his life, but most famously was a part of the Federal Art Project during the Great Depression. His piece, Aquatic Park (1942) is still standing at the Aquatic Park Bathhouse in San Francisco. Bufano became something of a San Francisco legend, to the point that his rent was paid for by art fans of the community up until his death in 1970.

How did sculptor Beniamino Bufano get started?

Beniamino Bufano was born in the small town of San Fele, Italy in 1890. HIs family immigrated to the United States when Bufano was just eleven years old. Bufano said he was one of fifteen children, though this number has never been officially verified. He studied at the Art Students League of New York around the time of World War I, eventually getting an assistantship with Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. This relationship ended poorly when Bufano was accused of stealing designs from Mrs. Whitney’s sketches. From there Bufano worked on a commission for the 1915 Pan-Pacific International Exhibition. This was Bufano’s first experience with San Francisco, a love affair that would last for the rest of his life. Bufano gained widespread fame in 1915, after then former-president Theodore Roosevelt expressed his admiration for Bufano’s work.

How much are Beniamino Bufano sculptures worth?

Beniamino Bufano’s sculptures can be worth anywhere from $1,000 for a minor piece all the way up to $48,000 for his major works. Much of Bufano’s large scale projects are owned by the US Government, and frequently don’t become available at auction. The most ever paid for a Beniamino Bufano sculpture at auction is $48,000 for the piece Shadows of the Future (date not given) on May 22nd, 2007. This is in line with many of Bufano’s other pieces, which have sold for $30,000 or more. Bufano’s pieces are heavily inspired by his time in China, and their simple, beautiful aesthetic is appealing to many collectors of sculptures in the US and abroad.

Where to buy Beniamino Bufano sculptures for sale?

See works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value Beniamino Bufano sculptures?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services department.


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