Francesco Messina was born in Linguaglossa (Catania) on December 15th
1900. His parents were Sicilian, and very poor. He grew up and studied in
Genoa, where he continued to live until he was thirty-five.
He completed his studies visiting the most important museums of
Europe. In 1932 he went to live in Milan.
In 1934 he won a national contest for
the professorship of sculpture at the Brera Academy in Milan, and
in 1936 was nominated director. In 1947 he regained the professorship of
sculpture at the Brera Academy after being sent away under the accusation
of having been director there during the Fascist regime.
From 1926 – 1929 he participated at the exhibitions of the artistic
group “Il Novecento Italiano” (The Italian Twentieth Century) in
Milan, and from 1930-1940 at the most important collective exhibitions of
Italian art both at home and abroad: Bern, Zurich, Gothenburg , Oslo,
Munich, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, San Paolo in Brazil.
In 1949 he exhibited at the “3rd Sculpture International”
organised by the Fairmount Park Association of Philadelphia (USA),
where such masters as Arp, Brancusi Epstein, Giacometti Laurens, Marino
Marini and Picasso were also represented.
In 1956 he organised a personal exhibition at the Venice Biennial XXVIII
From 1965 to 1975 he took part at the Italian Bronzes Travelling
Exhibition, organised by Fortunato Bellonzi, the secretary of the National
Independent Body for the Exhibition of Art, which visited eighteen
In 1978 two important sculpture and graphics exhibitions were held at
the Puskin Museum, Moscow and the Ermitage in St. Petersburg. After these
exhibitions the two museums dedicated permanent rooms to the forty
sculptures and forty graphics among the most representative of the artist,
that the maestro donated to these museums.
In 1981 an exhibition of drawings never exhibited before
was held in the desecrated fourteenth century church of S.
Francesco in Pordenone and another of pastels at the Civic Museum in the
At the same time he exhibited over fifty sculptures in the sixteenth
century Palazzo Flangini-Bilia in Sacile (Udine) .
During the summer of 1984 two exhibitions were held in Vienna, one for
sculpture, the other for graphics, The former at the Thesus tempel (Kunsthistorische
Museum), the latter at the Graphische Sammling Albertina.
In 1985 he participated with ten works at the collective
“Representation Abroad” exhibition at the Hirsham Museum in
In the spring of 1986 he exhibited forty sculptures at the Universe
Gallery in Tokyo, in the summer it was transferred to the Hakone Museum.
In the spring of 1976 an important anthological exhibition of sculpture
and graphics was held in Villa Malpensata, Lugano, for the international
arts and culture exhibition.
In December, the desecrated church of San Sisto al Carrobbio in Milan,
which he had restored and in which he had arranged about eighty of his most
significant works, became, under the patronage of the Milan Council, the
town’s Francesco Messina Studio-Museum.
n June 1983 an anthological exhibition of his sculptures was inaugurated
at the Maison de l’UNESCO in Paris.
In the summer of 1987 an important anthological exhibition of sculpture
and graphics was organised in
the Palazzo Ricci Renaissance building in Macerata. In this way the artist
commemorated the 150th anniversary of the death of Giacomo
1935 he executed the monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus for the town
of Chiavari, and in 1937 the equestrian monument
named “Regisole o Raggasole” in memory of a Roman monument of the
Emperor Antonius Pius which had been destroyed by the French soldiers in
In 1938 the “Minerva armata” monument dedicated to the university
town of Pavia.
During the period from 1950 to 1960 he modelled important statues and
monumental groups for the Milan Monumental Cemetery and for the church of
Sant’Eugenio in Rome and the Citadella Cristiana (Christian Citadel) of
Assisi. In 1958 he made a bust of Giacomo Puccini for the Scala Opera House
From 1961-62, at Pietrasanta (Lucca),
he sculptured a large marble monument
dedicated to St. Catherine, patron saint of Italy
which was placed on the battlements of Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome.
In 1963 he prepared the monument of Pius XII for St. Peters Basilica in
Rome and a bust of Pietro
Mascagni for the Scala Opera House.
In 1966 he modelled the “Cavallo morente” (Dying horse) statue for
the Palazzo RAI (Italian Broadcasting Company) in Rome.
1961 – the monument dedicated to Pius XI for Milan Cathedral.
From 1968 to 1971 he modelled a monumental “Via Crucis” (Way of the
Cross), sculptured a huge “Madonna with child” in Carrara marble for the
town of San Giovanni Rotondo sul Gargano in Puglia.
In 1974 he painted a portrait of Ranieri III, prince of Monaco.
In 1980 he modelled a statue of the “Resurrection of Christ”, six metres high as a conclusion for the Way of the Cross of San Giovanni Rotondo.
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