Miller Library recently received a new piece of artwork by artist Paolo Boni. You can see it at hanging behind the research assistance desk as we prepare for LibraryPrize this coming month. Here is a description of the artist and work.
Graphisculpture by Paolo Boni
Twentieth century Italian artist, Paolo Boni, equally accomplished in the various fields of painting, sculpture, and original printmaking, is a man not commonly recognized today. He was once widely acclaimed, with exhibits in Rome, Berlin, Paris, London, New York, Chicago, and elsewhere. As a result, he was awarded numerous worldwide commissions, including but not limited to many from well-known American institutions.
Boni was born in Vicchio di Mugello, a municipality near the city of Florence, Italy, in the year 1926. Little is recorded about his early life, but as a young man he was a skilled metal worker. This profession provided employment for him during World War II in a factory that duplicated precision instruments, where he became proficient at machining and turning metal into parts.
To begin his art career, following the war Boni entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. At points in his life he also studied in Venice and Rome, and throughout these years he be came an expert painter and sculptor.
Also during this time, throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, he concentrated heavily on dark canvases, mainly as a result of the “brutal planes of German Expressionism.” Despite the straightforwardness of his work during this period, however, this basis of “formal vocabulary with simplified figural compositions” provided the majority of Boni’s work in sculpture, relief and print.
As he became more knowledgeable about art and the particular skills that he himself possessed, Boni began to experiment with a type of art he referred to as ‘graphisculptures.’ According to one source, these were “multi-leveled relief prints arduously constructed by cutting and shaping different metals and individually inking and printing each in relation to the other.” The art itself is similar to a sculpture in the fact that it eventually turns out to be an artistically complex three dimensional image.
These graphisculptures brought the artist international recognition, and are what has set Boni apart as particularly unique. More recently he even began to make his prints more figurative, which is said to allow spectators “some degree of guarded projection into the image.”
The graphisculpture on display here was donated to Miller Library in October 2011 by a Cornerstone student who happened across it at a garage sale. The title, background, and provenance of the work is thus still a bit of mystery!