Arnaldo Pomodoro (Italian, born 1926) La Colonna del viaggiatore, 1960, VIII 1960

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Lot 19AR TP
Arnaldo Pomodoro
(Italian, born 1926)
La Colonna del viaggiatore, 1960, VIII

Sold for £ 80,500 (US$ 107,412) inc. premium
Arnaldo Pomodoro (Italian, born 1926)
La Colonna del viaggiatore, 1960, VIII

signed, dated 60 and numbered ~02 p.a. to the base

219.5 by 34.7 by 31.2 cm.
86 7/16 by 13 11/16 by 12 5/16 in.

This work is the artist's proof aside from the edition of 2.


  • This work is registered in the Studio Arnaldo Pomodoro, Milan, under no. AP 127.

    Collection Baron Lambert, Belgium
    Acquired directly from the above by the previous owner
    Thence by descent to the present owner

    Flaminio Gualdoni, Arnaldo Pomodoro: Catalogo ragionato della scultura, Tomo II, Milan 2007, p. 440, no. 183, another example illustrated in black and white

    Standing tall and proud, its mass of crystalline forms glittering and glinting in the light, Arnaldo Pomodoro's La Colonna del viaggiatore, 1960, VIII of 1960 is a sculpture with an imposing presence. Like an ancient stela or some religious idol, it appears to exude a sense of mystical power, its curved silhouette adding a softness to its angular interior, a mass of volumes and voids. At nearly 220 centimetres high, it looms like a mighty totem above all but the tallest human beings, its bronze polished to a brilliant golden sheen. This is a deity for the Modernist age, silent but powerful, a huge machine-god waiting to be sparked into life. One of an important series of Colonne del Viaggiatore (literally 'Columns of the traveller'), this one dates from a period in which Pomodoro had only recently arrived at his distinctive signature style, following years of study, research and travel. As such, this sculpture offers us an insight into a pivotal moment in the long career of the man who is arguably Italy's greatest living sculptor, an artist whose work has made an indelible impression on the aesthetics of the last half-century.

    Born in 1926 in Morciano, in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna, the young Arnaldo Pomodoro originally trained as a stage designer and goldsmith whilst earning a living as a consultant on the restoration of public buildings. In 1954 he moved to Milan where he began to move in avant-garde circles getting to know many artists, most importantly Lucio Fontana, whom Pomodoro credits with first inspiring his creativity, describing him recently as something of a father figure. Within a year of arriving in the city, Pomodoro's work was being exhibited in the renowned Galleria del Naviglio, a centre for Milan's vibrant artistic community with an international reputation. Pomodoro's travels during the late 1950s were to prove vitally important to the evolution of his practice. In 1956 he reached New York, visiting museums and galleries there, as well as fraternising with the city's many artists. In the years that followed he visited America numerous times, also organizing exhibitions of contemporary Italian art at the Bolles Gallery in New York and San Francisco.

    The artist himself has identified this as an unsettled period, a time when the world was in flux, engulfed in a general air of insecurity. Suddenly, the smooth elegance of earlier art seemed to be no longer relevant. Although a huge admirer of Constantin Brancusi, the changing times encouraged Pomodoro to create something different, something entirely new: "Faced with the ideal purity of Brancusi's works that I had admired at MoMA, I realised how outmoded such perfection was – I am talking about the early 60s. This realisation led me to probe geometrical shapes to discover their inner turmoil, the mystery they concealed and their compressed vitality" (the artist in an interview with Angeria Rigamonti di Cutò on, 12 April 2016). Comparisons of the present work with Brancusi's own Endless Columns reveal both similarities and differences, for while both stand proud and tall like obelisks, reaching upwards towards the sky, the surface of Pomodoro's column is stripped back, revealing the complex workings beneath. While Brancusi's sculpture is reminiscent of tribal art, remarkable for its very simplicity, Pomodoro's is unmistakeably modern, its busy interior buzzing with life. As with all of the greatest art, this sculpture is an object which resonates with the spirit of the age which from which it emerged.

    Since those heady days of the 1960s, a time when Pomodoro's public profile underwent an almost meteoric rise, the artist has continued on his artistic journey, developing his aesthetic and becoming an icon of Italian contemporary art in the process. Like his contemporaries Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni, his work is now recognised around the world, and as well as being held in the collections of many major museums. His large-scale sculptures are sited in public spaces across the globe: Amalienborg Square in Copenhagen (1982–83), Belvedere Fortress in Florence (1984), Cortile della Pigna in Vatican City (1989–90), United Nations Plaza in New York (1996) and Palais Royal in Paris (2002) to name but a few. Still living and working in Milan, his position as director of the Fondazione Pomodoro over the last two decades has allowed him to promote the exhibition and funding of numerous artists, and also secured his own artistic legacy. Aged ninety, Pomodoro remains as dynamic and committed as ever to the creative process, but then, any artist who could create a sculpture as impressive, as spell-binding as La Colonna del viaggiatore, 1960, VIII of 1960 was always destined to make their mark; his is an artistic vision which is as timeless and beautiful as it is powerful and profound.
Arnaldo Pomodoro (Italian, born 1926) La Colonna del viaggiatore, 1960, VIII 1960
Arnaldo Pomodoro (Italian, born 1926) La Colonna del viaggiatore, 1960, VIII 1960
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