By Livia Lupi

Sculptor Francesco Messina was born on 15 December 1900 in Linguaglossa, near Catania, in a very humble family. He was educated in Genoa, and then moved to Milan in his thirties. Along with Giacomo Manzù, Arturo Martini, Marino Marini and Felice Mina, Messina is considered one of the most important Italian sculptors of the twentieth century. He was director of the Accademia di Brera between 1936 and 1944, and his works feature in some of the most prestigious museum and galleries all over the world, including Zurich, Oslo, Munich, Paris, Buenos Aires, Moscow and Tokyo. Messina continued working until his death in 1995 in Milan, editing the numerous biographies dedicated to him with his daughter Paola’s help.

One of the most famous works of Francesco Messina is the sculpture of the dying horse in front of the headquarters of the Rai. This large bronze sculpture, commissioned in 1964 and installed in 1966, is still the main symbol of the national broadcasting company. Other important works include a bust portrait of novelist and poet Salvatore Quasimodo, who, along with Giorgio de Chirico, presented a solo exhibition of Messina’s  in 1938, a monument to pope Pius XII for St Peter’s in Rome, and a monument to pope Pius XI for the Duomo in Milan.

Reference: Rosanna Ruscio, “Messina, Francesco” Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Enciclopedia Treccani

Further reading: Mario Pancera, Francesco Messina e la femminilità. Simonelli Editore, 2013.

Giovanni Morello, ed. Francesco Messina: Dio nell’uomo. Fabbri Editore, 1993.

Jean Cocteau, Francesco Messina. Amilcare Pizzi Editore, 1959.

Dying Horse, 1966, Rai Headquarters, Rome. Bronze.

Portrait of Salvatore Quasimodo, 1937. Bronze.

Boxer, 1929, Galleria civica d’arte moderna e contemporanea, Turin. Bronze.

Monument to Pius XII, 1963, St Peter’s, Rome. 

St Catherine of Siena, 1961-62, Castle Sant’Angelo, Rome.

Dancer, 1973. Bronze.

Beatrice, 1959, South Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. Bronze.

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