ProvenanceTasende Gallery, La Jolla (CA)
Cardinale Seduto (1961)
When Giacomo Manzù attends a ceremony in St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome in 1938 and sees a group of cardinals standing together, their enveloped bodies leave a deep impression on him. The shape and appearance inspire him to a long reflection on this theme, one with which he will continue to experiment with for the rest of his career. In his sculptures he studied all possible variations on the shape of the cloaks, the folds, as well as the synthesis of volumes.
The stylized costume of this seated cardinal creates a pyramidal shape. The figure is reduced to a conical whole, with the broad base ending in the top of the miter. The body seems invisible in this inseparable whole. The simplicity and serenity are carried through to the face of the cardinal. He is modest and seems to be absorbed in meditation. The anonymity, austerity and monumentality give a universal character to the sculptures.
Manzù's relationship with faith was rather fragile. He repeatedly claimed to be an atheist. For him, his sculptures had no religious approach. His motive was the fascination for the shape, the imposing silhouettes and the grandeur of the cardinals. His sculptures were a celebration of the sublimity of the form.
From 1938 until his death in 1991, Manzù produced more than 300 versions of his cardinals. It is by far the most iconic theme in his entire oeuvre.