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    Description

    ARNALDO POMODORO (Italian, b. 1926)
    Piccolo Sfera, 1963
    Bronze
    20 x 20 x 20 inches (50.8 x 50.8 x 50.8 cm)
    Weight: sculpture, 86 lbs. (37 kg); base, 214 lbs. (97 kg)
    Ed. 1/2
    Presented on a black stone base

    PROPERTY OF MRS. RUTH CARTER STEVENSON
    PROVENANCE:
    Felix Landau Gallery, Los Angeles, California;
    Purchased from the above by the current owner in 1963.

    In 1963, the year he produced Piccolo Sfera, the self-taught Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro won a major prize at the Sao Paolo Biennial for his highly polished cast bronze spheres whose surfaces he gouges out and scars. The Brazilian award was followed by a top prize at the Venice Biennale a year later, which secured his reputation as an important new talent.

    Pomodoro, whose name means "golden apple," or more colloquially, "tomato" in Italian, began his career making jewelry after rigorous training as an architect. He slowly moved into the realm of sculpture, bringing with him a feeling for exquisite detail and craftsmanship, geometry, texture, and the palpable tension present in man's relationship to the technological age. He worked first in more malleable lead and pewter to initiate the idea of his expressionist "boxes." He subsequently moved into the more demanding processes of cast brass and bronze.

    For the artist, who lives and works in Milan, the starting point is always solid geometry; the expression of tension begins as he scores, gouges out, and selectively cuts into his spheres, cylinders, cubes and disks. "The contrast between the polished and torn surfaces is precisely the difficulty of the individual to adapt to the new world," he feels. What he finds within these solid geometries evokes a strange and curious crystalline imagery drawn from the machine. As a writer for Time noted on December 3, 1965: "His slabs look like the innards of computers, his spheres like ball-shaped printing heads for IBM typewriters. He did a façade for a Cologne school that is 78 feet high by 27 feet wide and entitled Grand Homage to Technological Civilization. He calls other slabs Radars because they strike him as "capturing feelings."

    Rather than being at odds with the machine, Pomodoro searches for harmony between technological society and man. His sculpture probes for a tactile solution that will satisfy both the intellect and the emotions. The complicated crevices and fissures in Piccolo Sfera interrupt the polished surface to produce visual and tactile counterpoints. The effect seems to suggest the chasm between machine-age perfection and man's inner doubts.

    The present owner purchased Piccolo Sfera in 1963, the same year it was made. Like many of Pomodoro's ambitious cast works, Piccolo Sfera was produced in an extremely small edition. This is one of two.

    Arnaldo Pomodoro is a recipient of the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Sculpture Center.

    Circumstances surrounding the purchase of Piccolo Sfera in 1963 and the fabrication of the base:
    On a visit to Los Angeles in the fall of 1963, Mrs. Ruth Carter Stevenson was taken to the Felix Landau Gallery, which several months before had mounted the very first exhibition of Arnaldo Pomodoro's work in the United States ("Recent Sculptures by Arnaldo Pomodoro," Oct. 27 - Nov. 17, 1962; see attached scan of the catalogue). She was accompanied there by two important museum professionals from Los Angeles--Rick Brown (then director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and future director of the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth), and Henry Hopkins (curator of contemporary art at LACMA). At the time of her visit, Mrs. Stevenson was enthusiastically buying contemporary sculpture, an interest which had been kindled through her friendship with Philip Johnson, the architect of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth. She bought Piccolo Sfera from the Landau Gallery, and had it shipped back to Texas where the black stone base for it was fabricated under the supervision of Mitch Wilder, the distinguished director of the Amon Carter Museum.
    Arnaldo Pomodoro receives Lifetime Achievement Award on April 25, 2008
    On April 25, 2008 in San Francisco, Arnaldo Pomodoro was the 2008 co-recipient of The International Sculpture Center's Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award (with Fletcher Benton).

    Biography (Obituary) of Felix Landau, dealer who gave Pomodoro his first American exhibition:
    Felix Landau, 78, Gallery Owner With an Eye for Influential Art

    By ERIC PACE
    Published: March 9, 2003 The New York Times
    Felix Landau, an art dealer who had owned a prestigious gallery in Los Angeles, died on Feb. 17 at his home in Garches, a suburb of Paris. He was 78.
    The cause was complications from diabetes, his family said.

    Mr. Landau married Mitzi Ruth Ander in 1948, and in 1951 they founded the Felix Landau Gallery in Los Angeles on La Cienega Boulevard that became the city's ''gallery row.''

    Through the gallery, Mr. Landau, who was born in Austria, made known to Los Angeles the work of the Austrian artists Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.

    In the 1960's the gallery was a respected site for viewing contemporary and modern art. Over the years, it exhibited works by other prominent European artists, including Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon, as well as works by artists with links to California, like Sam Francis and Richard Diebenkorn. In 1971, Mr. Landau closed the gallery in Los Angeles and one he owned in New York City and became a Paris-based private art dealer.

    Felix Henry Landau was born in Vienna in 1924. In 1938, when German troops occupied Austria, he and his family fled and became New Yorkers. He attended City College and served in the Army in the Pacific theater during World War II. In 1948 he moved with his wife to Los Angeles. They divorced in the early 1970's.

    He is survived by his second wife, Elga Heinzen, a Swiss painter of some renown, whom he married in 1980; a sister, Hilde Landau Rhalter of Los Angeles; three sons from his first marriage, Jeffrey, Robert and Barry, all of Los Angeles; two grandsons; and a stepson, Mederic Nebinger of Garches.




    Condition Report*: There are surface scratches commensurate with age. They are most numerous on the bottom where the sculpture makes contact with the base, as can be expected. Otherwise the sculpture is in very good condition. The dimensions for the base are 6 x 19 x 19 inches.
     
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2008
    8th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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