SACI sculpture students visit master sculptors and see world-famous marble quarries in Pietrasanta and Carrara, Italy.
On a recent field trip with sculpture instructor John Taylor, the SACI sculpture students visited Pietrasanta and Carrara, Italy, where they were able to see how large-scale sculptures are made from initial concept to finished product. The group had the opportunity to meet with master sculptors and tour the famous marble quarries of the area.
In Pietrasanta – a mecca for marble sculptors and drawing masters from around the world who wish to walk in the footsteps of Michelangelo – the students visited the Mariani Foundry, where they had the chance to talk with the artisans and meet Danish artist Liné Ringtved Thordarson. At Marble Studios Stagetti, they witnessed block stone being carved into a finished sculpture, observed mosaic work and replacement work in progress, and viewed works by Roberto Piaia and Choi Yoon Sook. These studios hold full-sized reproductions of countless treasures, such as the masterpieces of Renaissance masters, ancient Roman athletes, and busts of royalty. The skills and techniques needed to work with these materials are still passed down verbally from master to student and involve many years of practice. Sculptors in training also practice related disciplines such as model-making and bronze casting.
The students also visited the seaside at Coluccini Beach and toured the towering marble quarries of Carrara, where Michelangelo Buonarroti traveled to select materials for his famous Pietà and other sculptures. Though the old systems of pulleys, ramps, and sleds have been replaced by modern quarrying equipment, one can still appreciate the centuries-old tradition of removing white chunks of marble from the mountainsides.