Nivola in New York : Figure in Field
January 24, 2020
through March 15, 2020
The Cooper Union’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture and the Costantino Nivola Foundation present Nivola in New York: Figure in Field, an exhibition of the work of Italian sculptor Costantino Nivola (1911–1988), known for his large-scale bas-reliefs, murals, and free-standing sculptural installations created in collaboration with architects. On view in the Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery, the exhibition is the first-ever to tell the story of Nivola’s built New York City projects through maquettes and sculptures, original drawings, site-specific photographs, and related ephemera. The exhibition also features a timeline outlining 58 projects that Nivola made in collaboration with architects over approximately 40 years. In addition to the exhibition, The Cooper Union will present a variety of related programming including a panel on the role of public art, as well as off-site educational workshops and tours of Nivola’s work throughout the city.
Born in Sardinia, Nivola was already a practicing artist in Italy before fleeing fascism with his Jewish wife and ultimately settling in New York in 1939. After a move to Long Island, he developed and perfected his unique processes for carving cement and sandcasting cement and plaster using molds reverse sculpted in wet sand. New York is home to the largest gathering of Nivola’s public artworks — 21 pieces across all five boroughs, at least 17 of which still exist. The gallery exhibition highlights four of these projects, starting with Nivola’s first public commission, a 15-foot-high, 76-foot-long wall relief completed in 1953 for the Olivetti showroom on Fifth Avenue. It also includes a 1953 sandcast bas-relief cartouche for Coney Island’s William E. Grady High School, a public plaza created in 1962 between two housing blocks on the Upper West Side, and Nivola’s last sculptural commission completed in the United States: a series of bronze statuettes and plaques he created in 1984 at the 19th Precinct Combined Police and Fire Facilities on the Upper East Side.
Nivola in New York: Figure in Field is co-curated by Steven Hillyer, Director, The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture Archive at The Cooper Union and Roger Broome, a Brooklyn-based architect and alumnus of the school, with scientific advice from Giuliana Altea and Antonella Camarda.
January 23 – March 15
Tuesday – Friday 2:00-7:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 12:00-7:00pm
Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery at The Cooper Union
Panel and Reception
Thursday, January 23 at 6:30pm
The Great Hall at The Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10003
Reception to follow.
ABOUT THE COSTANTINO NIVOLA FOUNDATION
The Costantino Nivola Foundation promotes the awareness of the works and message of Costantino Nivola as well as sustaining contemporary art in general through exhibitions, research, and cultural activities with the goal of improving local and regional cultural and economic possibilities. The Foundation is responsible for the Nivola Museum and its park; organizes exhibitions, conventions, awards; and makes connections with cultural institutions in Sardinia, Italy, and abroad. The Foundation’s holdings include the site and buildings of the Museum and the Nivola works in its collection. For more information, visit