Ettore Colla


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Italian sculptor, painter, printmaker, art dealer, editor, and critic. Born in Parma, he studied at the Academy there, then in 1921 moved to Paris, where he met several leading sculptors, notably Bourdelle, in whose studio he worked. In 1924 he was assistant to Lehmbruck in Munich, and after a year of odd jobs, including being an elephant trainer's assistant in Vienna, he settled in Rome in 1926. Initially he worked on the gigantic monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, which had been begun in 1885 but with its hundreds of marble figures took decades to finish. In the 1930s he made a name with portrait busts and nude figures showing the influence of Bourdelle and Arturo Martini. During the Second World War Colla temporarily abandoned sculpture, working as an art dealer, editor, and critic. In about 1948 he started painting in a geometrical abstract style, and in 1950 he opened a gallery called Origine, where exhibitions were devoted to Balla and Vantongerloo amongst others. From 1952 to 1958 he edited the review Arti Visive, which sometimes included examples of his screenprints, either as the cover or bound-in with the text. In 1952 he returned to sculpture, but in an abstract rather than figurative style. Initially he made reliefs in wood and iron, and in 1955 he began using welded iron, usually assembled from scrap material such as old machine parts. Typically his work evokes a feeling of new life rising from rubble and ruin and sometimes it has a fetishistic suggestion. He gained an international reputation and had several large commissions, including the 10-metre-high Gran Spirale, made for the 1962 Spoleto Festival and now outside the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome.

From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.

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