Italian, b. 1926
Born in 1926 in the village of Fibbiano Montanino, Lucca, Italy, Bruno Lucchesi has been called “the last of the Renaissance sculptors.” As a boy, he worked as a shepherd, his first artistic imaginings demonstrated in designs he would carve out of sticks while tending the sheep. At ten years old, he left his home village to study at a monastery in Lucca, where he had his first exposure to sculpture as an art form. After a few years, he returned home to work on the family farm, throughout the Second World War. During this time he met a Yugoslavian refugee artist, who took Lucchesi under his wing, teaching him the basics of drawing and encouraging him to pursue more formal training. Lucchesi did so, enrolling in the Art Institute of Lucca in 1947, and completing the classical training there in 1950. Subsequently, the twenty-four-year-old Lucchesi moved to Florence and continued to study sculpture, working for the Paternino Reproduction Company, where he made ceramic models of various types of figures for the tourist trade and invented a new technique termed sfoglia, used for creating realistic folds and texture in clothing. He was appointed assistant professor of architecture at the Art Academy in Florence and so began a teaching career, which would continue in the United States, at the New School for Social Research and the National Academy of Design.
It was 1958 when Lucchesi, with his young wife and child, moved to New York City where his wife’s parents lived. In his first year in America, Lucchesi worked a variety of jobs, finding little time for his own work and a scarcity of commission opportunities available. He took to making small sculptures in his spare time, which he began selling through his father-in-law’s frame shop in Greenwich Village. His work soon found a faithful group of followers and he began to earn his living from sales of his artwork. In 1959, Lucchesi won the Helen Foster Barnett Prize for Sculpture from the National Academy of Design and the following year had his sculpture The Batherselected for inclusion in the Whitney Annual, an annual exhibition of contemporary painting and sculpture at Whitney Museum of American Art. He returned to Florence, to focus exclusively on his work for one year, coming back to New York City in 1961 to a one-man show at the newly-opened Forum Gallery. His relationship with Forum Gallery would continue for the next several decades, with a total of nine solo exhibitions during that time span.
1962 brought Lucchesi a Guggenheim fellowship (1962-1963) and his first U.S. commission for a frieze at the National Westminster Bank USA of New York. The following decades included a succession of awards and prominent commission work, including four Gold Medals for sculpture: two from the National Academy of Design (1970, 1974), one from the National Arts Club (1963) and another from the National Sculpture Society (1977). Commissioned sculptures by Bruno Lucchesi can be found at churches in Lucca, Italy, office buildings in Manhattan and various other locations throughout the U.S. and Italy. His work is included in the following collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Columbia Museum, Columbia, South Carolina; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas TX; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; National Academy of Design, New York, NY; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, UT; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, among others.
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York
Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
Museo dei Bozzetti, Pietrasanta, Italy
Museum of Fine Arts, Sofia, Bulgaria
Museum of the City of New York, New York
Museum of World Treasures, Wichita, Kansas
Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, New York
Queens Museum, Queens, New York
Rahr-West Art Museum, Manitowoc, Wisconsin
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York
1959 Walter Thompson Company, New York, New York, 1959.
Forum Gallery, New York, New York, 1961, 1963-1964, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1985, 2003.
Forum Gallery, Los Angeles, California, 2003.
Heritage Gallery, Los Angeles, California 1970.
Canton Art Institute, Canton, Ohio, 1972.
Medici II Gallery, Miami, Florida, 1975.
Sordoni Art Gallery, Wilkes College, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, 1976.
Prince Arthur Galleries, Toronto, Canada, 1977.
Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, 1979.
Foster-Harmon Gallery, Sarasota, Florida, 1980, 1986.
Rauchbach Galleries, Bay Harbor Islands, Florida, 1983.
Blue Hill Cultural Center, Pearl River, New York, 1984.
Casey Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona, 1986.
Birke Art Gallery, Marshall University, Huntington, Virginia 1989.
Cavalier Galleries, Greenwich, Connecticut, 2000, 2005.
Saint Agostino Chiosk, Pietrasanta, Italy, 2000.
Chase/Freedman Gallery, West Hartford, Connecticut, 2001.
Lachaise Gallery, Cedar Crest College, Allentown, Pennsylvania, 2002, 2005.
John Sill House Gallery, Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, Old Lyme, Connecticut, 2002.
Cavalier Galleries, Nantucket, Massachusetts, 2002, 2006.
The Sue and Eugene Mercy, Jr. Gallery, The Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, Connecticut, 2006.
Scottsdale Artists’ School, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2007.
Paul Mellon Arts Center Gallery, Rosemary Choate Hall, Wallingford, Connecticut, 2007.
Honors and Awards
1958 City of Florence, Italy – Provincia di Firenze - Silver Medal.
1959 National Academy of Design - Helen Foster Barnett Prize.
1959 Techni-Craft Graphic Arts – Honorable Mention.
1959 The Architectural League of New York – Honorable Mention Henry O. Avery Award.
1962 Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Sculpture 1962-1963.
1963 National Academy of Design - Elizabeth N. Watrous Gold Medal.
1963 National Arts Club - Gold Medal for Sculpture.
1965 National Academy of Design – Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal.
1965 National Arts Club – Gold Medal.
1967 National Academy of Design - Elizabeth N. Watrous Gold Medal.
1968 Art Director’s Club of New York – Merit Award.
1969 City of Pietrasanta, Italy – Riviera Della Versilia Award.
1970 National Academy of Design – Certificate of Merit.
1971 National Academy of Design – Artists’ Fund Prize.
1972 National Academy of Design – Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal.
1973 National Academy of Design – Artists’ Fund Prize.
1974 National Academy of Design – Saltus Gold Medal for Merit.
1975 National Society of Literature and The Arts Award.
1976 City of Lucca, Italy - Medal for Honoring Italy Abroad.
1977 National Academy of Design - Gold Medal.
1978 National Academy of Design – Artists’ Fund Prize.
1979 National Sculpture Society – Roman Bronze Foundry Prize.
1981 National Sculpture Society - Gold Medal.
1981 National Academy of Design – Artists’ Fund Prize.
1982 New York City Italian Cultural Society - Lion of San Marco Art Award.
1983 National Sculpture Society - Silver Medal.
1983 National Academy of Design – Artists’ Fund Prize.
1989 National Sculpture Society - Silver Medal.
1989 National Academy of Design – Artists’ Fund Prize.
1989 New York Artists Equity Association Award.
1990 National Academy of Design - Gold Medal.
1996 National Sculpture Society – Herbert Adams Memorial Medal.
2000 City of Pietrasanta, Italy - International Prize.
2002 Honorary Doctorate Degree of Fine Arts from Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, Old Lyme, Connecticut.
2002 Honorary Doctorate Degree of Fine Arts from Cedar Crest College, Allentown, Pennsylvania.
2003 Artists’ Fellowship, Benjamin West Clinedinst Memorial Medal Award.
2005 Brookgreen Gardens, Kenan Master Sculptor.
2009 National Sculpture Society – The Polich Tallix Foundry Prize.
2010 National Sculpture Society – Medal of Honor - For achievement in and for the encouragement of American Sculpture
2012 40th Year Anniversary Ceremony of Walt Whitman Portrait - Arrow Park, Monroe, New York.
2012 50th Year Anniversary Guggenheim Fellows Honor from John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York.
2013 48th Year Anniversary National Academicians Honor from The National Academy, New York.
2014 The Connecticut Hospice Inc., Patient Advocate for Life Award, Branford, Connecticut.
2015 Portrait Society of America – Gold Medal for Lifelong Achievement.
2016 Civica Benemerenza in the Book of Gold in the City of Camaiore, Italy