Born in 1933 in Shanghai, while his father was stationed there in the Italian Navy, di Suvero moved with his family to San Francisco in 1941 at the outbreak of World War II. He attended high school but dropped out to work in a shipyard and as housepainter. Between 1953-1954 he enrolled at San Francisco City College and then for a year at the University of Santa Barbara, where he studied philosophy and began taking sculpture classes with Robert Thomas. He then transferred to University of California at Berkeley where he continued to sculpt, under Stephen Novak, and finished his degree in philosophy. Di Suvero moved to New York in 1957 and through his friendship with Richard Bellamy began exhibiting at Green Gallery. His monumental early sculptures constructed from thick, discarded wooden beams or pieces of metal evoked the wide, bold brushwork of Abstract Expressionist painters such as Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. Di Suvero himself commented “my sculpture is painting in three dimensions.” (1) Scholars have, likewise, found the same energy and excitement expressed by the gesture painters in his dynamic and avant-garde works.
Throughout his career di Suvero exhibited prolifically both in the U.S. and abroad, and created numerous public and outdoor installations. His solo and group exhibitions have
included shows at the Museum of Modern Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum, New York, Documenta IV, Kassel, Germany, and the Jardin de Tuilleries, Paris, France among many others. In 1975, the Whitney Museum of American Art presented a retrospective of his work. In addition, his many public sculptures include the Los Angeles, a monument Tower of Peace, 1966, which protested the Vietnam War, and his more recent Joie de Vivre, 1998 for Zuccotti Park, in lower Manhattan. Di Suvero’s sculptures can also be seen in public collections including for the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C., the Baltimore Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, New York. The artist currently lives and works in New York. In 2005, he was awarded the Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities.
(1) Ibid, 12.
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