Todi, Beverly Pepper Park, Umbria's first contemporary sculpture park, opens to the public

In Todi (Perugia), Beverly Pepper Park, the first contemporary sculpture park in Umbria and the artist's first park, opens to the public.

The Beverly Pepper Park, dedicated to the great American artist Beverly Pepper (New York, 1922), officially opened to the public in Todi (Perugia). This is the first monothematic park of contemporary sculpture in Umbria and the first by the artist in the world: it is both a sculpture park and a nature-urban path immersed in greenery, within the city’s medieval walls, connecting the Temple of Santa Maria della Consolazione with the historic center. By uniting the two focal points of the city, the park thus allows visitors to fully enjoy the interaction between artwork, landscape, monumentality and urban context.

“I hope to contribute to Todi regaining the energy it once had,” says Beverly Pepper, who was present at the opening. “The desire to show itself to the world again, to welcome and attract people curious about ancient art, contemporary art and a landscape of great beauty. It is with immense joy that I look forward to this new project for Todi, a new energy for the town that marries its history with my path as an artist, who has always been committed in Land Art projects to creating a vital link between sculptures and the naturalistic context. Art and nature that stimulate man in an inner quest that tends to the infinite.”

The Park was designed and planned entirely by the artist, and is studded with sixteen sculptures she donated to the city of Todi, all from her private collection and produced over a period of time ranging from 1963’s Embrace (an icon from the early period of the artist’s career) to 2018’s The Todi Columns (one of her most celebrated, created for the historic center of the Umbrian city), and by a series of bench-sculptures designed by herself, called lunettes, made of pietra serena, conceived as vantage points from which to admire the works or meditative spots in which to pause. The chosen sculptures exemplarily represent Beverly Pepper’s very long career: it is a path that began in the 1960s and that formally has never been associated with a specific art movement, with some creative elements traceable to both expressionism and minimalism, a predilection for industrial materials (especially steel) and monumentality, just think of the two San Martino Altars (1993) and the re-edition of the Todi Columns.

The work to create the Park, directed by architect Paolo Luccioni, also involved the reclamation of the entire affected area and the restoration of all the sculptures donated to the community. The creation of the Park also stands as a virtuous example of a public-private relationship: alongside the generosity of Beverly Pepper, which donated the sculptures, is the involvement of the Beverly Pepper Projects Foundation, which coordinated the entire operation, the Municipal Administration, which financed the creation of the Park and its maintenance, the Umbria Region and the Europe, which supported the initiative, as well as contributions from Fondazione Cassa Di Risparmio di Perugia and technical sponsorships from Giulio and Mauro Borgia, Cantina Lungarotti, Cantine Roccafiore, Iron, Luccioni Arch Studio, Tecnogru, Visioni Future, 1000e20 Onethousandevents Production.

A Park Guide, with a text by art critic Joseph Antenucci Becherer and descriptive cards for each sculpture, was also published on the occasion of the opening to help visitors learn more about the park’s works and their installation. The park has the patronage of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, U.S. Embassy in Italy, Region of Umbria, FAI Umbria, Province of Perugia, Chamber of Commerce of Perugia, Academy of Fine Arts of Perugia, Fondazione Cassa Di Risparmio di Perugia, Todi per l’Arte.

Beverly Stoll Pepper was born in Brooklyn in 1922. She lives and works between Todi and New York. She studied advertising design, photography and industrial design at the Art Students’ League in Brooklyn and, beginning in the 1940s, at l’Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. While in Europe she visited Italy and Rome, where she met journalist writer Curtis Bill Pepper, who would become her husband. Her first solo exhibition, presented by Carlo Levi, in 1952, is at the Zodiac Gallery in Rome. During these years she frequented the artists Achille Perilli, Pietro Consagra, Piero Dorazio, and Giulio Turcato of Gruppo Forma1 and forged numerous relationships with the Roman cultural milieu. In 1960, after a trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, he radically changed his artistic language, approaching sculpture and making small forms in wood and clay. She exhibited for the first time as a sculptor in 1961 in New York and in Rome at Galleria Pogliani, with a critical presentation by Giulio Carlo Argan. In 1962 she participated in the exhibition Sculptures in the City as part of the Fifth Festival of the Two Worlds in Spoleto. The artist made several medium- and large-scale works inside the Italsider workshops in Piombino, an experience that marked his definitive transition to the art of forging and shaping metal.

Between 1967 and 1969 he experimented with real forms of connective-art and environmental projects using grass, sand, and hay. Between 1971 and 1975 he made his first environmental project in Dallas, Dallas Land Canal and Hillside. In 1971 Pepper was hosted by the city of Rome to exhibit a dozen stainless steel sculptures in Piazza Margana. In 1972 she was present at the XXXIV Venice Biennale and moved definitively to Todi, where she built her atelier-factory in her own residence. Between 1974 and 1976 he made one of his first Land Art works, Amphisculpture, in New Jersey, and in 1977 he exhibited at Documenta 6 in Kassel. In 1998 he made the installation at Forte Belvedere.

Environmental works include Todi Columns, installed in Todi’s Piazza del Popolo, Spazio Teatro Celle in Pistoia, Narni Columns in Narni, Palingenesis in Zurich, Sol y Ombra Park in Barcelona, Manhattan Sentinels in New York’s Federal Plaza, Departure, For My Grandmother in Vilnius, Lithuania, Brufa Broken Circle, Brufa Sculpture Park. In 2014 Beverly Pepper exhibited her Circles at the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome, managing to combine the past with the present. Recent Land Art works include Amphisculpture, a 3,000-square-meter outdoor theater, the largest in central and southern Italy, created and donated by Beverly Pepper to the city of L’Aquila as part of the Nine Artists for Reconstruction project. Among the awards and honors he has received are the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center in New York, National Academician from the National Academy Museum and school in New York, the Alexander Calder Sculpture Award in France, the honor of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres Paris, the honor of Commendatore all’Ordine del Merito della Repubblica Italiana, and the honor of Accademico di Merito at the Academy of Fine Arts in Perugia.

Todi, Beverly Pepper Park, Umbria's first contemporary sculpture park, opens to the public
Todi, Beverly Pepper Park, Umbria's first contemporary sculpture park, opens to the public

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