Chicago Antiques Guide

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Mario Spampinato - Sculptor in Bronze

Posted Sunday, September 23 by CAG

Mario Spampinato - Self Portrait.jpg

I was recently asked to help with the estate of a local artist, Mario Spampinato. The estate included a number of bronzes, created and cast by Mario Spampinato. His works include figure studies, florals, and abstract sculptures. Figures include action sports figures (golf and tennis), female dancers, and female figure studies. Some of his works will be included in the upcoming Fine Furniture and Decorative Arts Auction being conducted by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers on October 7, 8 & 9, 2012. The bust at left will not be included in the auction. It is a self portrait of the artist, and will be retained in the family.

The artist was born, raised and trained in Italy.
Mario Spampinato - Untitled Floral.jpg
During one of his exhibits (at San Marcos in Rome) the Director of a New York Gallery asked him to come to New York to work for him. The American Consul, before issuing his visa, asked Spampinato to create a bust of him. In exchange, the Consul paid for his passage on the boat to New York. In New York, he worked with his brother Clemente Spampinato who is a well known sculptor as well.

After moving to Chicago in 1954, he discovered that there was no foundry in the Midwest that could cast his bronzes. So, he opened his own foundry called the Spampinato Art Foundry, casting in the lost wax process. He also started his own private school (Spampinato Art Workshop, Ltd) and did some teaching at the University of Chicago and conducted seminars at Lawrence University in Kansas.

Many of his own works are pictured and cataloged in
Volumes 2 & 3 of Bronzes: Sculptors and Founders, 1800-1930 by Harold Berman

Lot 989 - Norma.jpg
Between 1959 and 1967, Spampinato recast a number of Charles M Russell's works on commission from the Findlay Galleries of Chicago. Spampinato Art Foundry records indicate that there were 16 different works done, all in editions of 30 or less. The recasts are well represented in the collection of the R. W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport, Louisiana. Many of these are published in a book titled
Charles M. Russell (1864-1926), paintings, drawings, and sculpture : in the collection of the R. W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport, Louisiana written and published by the staff of the art gallery.

Tennis Player - Return.jpg
Records in the estate indicate that Spampinato did works for Pabst Brewing Co., University of Notre Dame,, Indiana University, Encyclopedia Britannica, Webster College and others.

He attended the following institutions:
Liceo Artisticao
L'Accademia delle Belle Arte
Academy of Arts on Via Margutta in Rome
Scuola Internazionale del Nudo
Accademia di Francia

Member of:
International Society of Sculptors
Society of American Sculptors

The auction will include 7 original works by Mario Spampinato, and 4 of the Charles M Russell bronzes cast at the Spampinato Art Foundry. To find all of his lots in the auction, enter Spampinato in the SEARCH Forthcoming Sales box on the Online Catalog page.

Information about Mario Spampinato and his work was gleaned from papers in the estate.

Mayor Daley and Mario Spampinato at the re-dedication of the Police Memorial in Haymarket Square. Spampinato restored the bronze statue after it was blown off its base with dynamite at the end of the turbulent 1960's.
Daley and Mario Spampinato.jpg

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