Amerigo for My Father

Mark di Suvero, American, born 1933

Date:
1963

Medium:
Wood, steel, iron, clothesline

Dimensions:
Approximately: 8 feet 6 inches x 6 feet 6 inches, 60 inches (259.1 x 198.1 x 152.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Modern and Contemporary Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1981-112-1

Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David N. Pincus, 1981

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Mark di Suvero's wood and metal sculpture of the early 1960s is often described as painting in three dimensions. The jagged combinations of rough-hewn materials call to mind the rawness and energy of Abstract Expressionism, particularly the broad, slashing strokes of Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. Yet Di Suvero's illogical juxtaposition of found materials, each possessing a history and reservoir of associations, connects him to a wider practice ranging from Dada and Surrealism to junk assemblage of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The title Amerigo for My Father conflates the experiences of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1451-1512), for whom the Americas were named, with Di Suvero's father, an Italian soldier who brought his family to the United States at the outbreak of World War II. The sculpture's top-heavy structure pivots slowly on a tiny point, which adds to the dynamic interaction among its parts and with its environment. John B. Ravenal, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 336.
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Mark di Suvero's wood and metal sculpture of the early 1960s is often described as painting in three dimensions. The jagged combinations of rough-hewn materials call to mind the rawness and energy of Abstract Expressionism, particularly the broad, slashing strokes of Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. Yet Di Suvero's illogical juxtaposition of found materials, each possessing a history and reservoir of associations, connects him to a wider practice ranging from Dada and Surrealism to junk assemblage of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The title Amerigo for My Father conflates the experiences of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1451-1512), for whom the Americas were named, with Di Suvero's father, an Italian soldier who brought his family to the United States at the outbreak of World War II. The sculpture's top-heavy structure pivots slowly on a tiny point, which adds to the dynamic interaction among its parts and with its environment. John B. Ravenal, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections, 1995, p. 336

  • PublicationTwentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Mark di Suvero's signature works of the 1960s were created from discarded beams and planks collected at demolition sites near his Fulton Street studio in Manhattan. These sculptures balance the monumental and the precarious in dramatic compositions of criss-crossing elements projecting into space. The architectural components that the artist scavenged and transformed into sculpture push the spontaneity, grandeur, and raw energy of Abstract Expressionism into three-dimensional space, marrying the spatial dynamics of gestural painting to a new aesthetic of found objects drawn from the detritus of urban life.

    Di Suvero brought the principles of his gigantic outdoor sculptural projects into the making of Amerigo for My Father, a work scaled for presentation in a gallery. Composed of two cast-off timbers with rusted metal bolts and clamps, an I beam welded to the central supporting pipe, and a beam emerging from a metal plate on the floor, the piece is cacophonous and aggressive yet self-contained. Two cantilevered metal pieces, mangled and attached to a horizontal beam, jut into space. An ordinary clothesline is suspended from one. An upside-down chair hangs at the end of the clothesline, one of a number of suspended moveable objects that the artist incorporated in sculptures during the early 1960s. Amid the hefty, gravity-bound solidity of the sculpture, this element of domestic furniture is like a child's swing discovered in the midst of a construction site, and it imparts a sense of poignancy and playfulness to di Suvero's masculine junkyard aesthetic. This counterpoint of homespun familiarity continues in the title, Amerigo for My Father, in which the artist pays tribute to his heritage as the son of Venetian parents. Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2000), p. 100.