Monthly Archives: November 2012

Granite was formed from the magma, the fluid mix of molten stones that is found beneath the surface of the earth. The magma cooled down slowly and as it was under constant pressure , it formed crystals from different types of minerals. Those minerals give the color to the stone and that is why we can find so many different colors of granite. The stone was formed deep beneath the earth’s crust thousands of years ago.

Its skin looks soft, its presence strong. Time is stilled.

In antiquity, according to Wikipedia, granite was used:

The Red Pyramid of Egypt (c.26th century BC), named for the light crimson hue of its exposed granite surfaces, is the third largest of Egyptian pyramids.  Pyramid, likely dating to the same era, was constructed of limestone and granite blocks. The Great Pyramid of Giza (c.2580 BC) contains a huge granite sarcophagus fashioned of “Red Aswan Granite.” The mostly ruined Black Pyramid dating from the reign of Amenemhat III once had a polished granite pyramidion or capstone, now on display in the main hall of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (see Dahshur). How the Egyptians worked the solid granite is still a matter of debate. Many large Hindu temples in southern India, particularly those built by the 11th century king Rajaraja Chola I, were made of granite. There is a large amount of granite in these structures. They are comparable to the Great Pyramid of Giza.

I use mostly granite to create my sculptures. It is one of the hardest stones to carve, but also one of the most beautiful stones to work with.

My studio is in Pietrasanta, Italy, in the foothills of the Apuan Alps, a few miles from Carrara.

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Pietrasanta is a town on the coast of Tuscany, Italy, in the province of Lucca. It is situated in the foothills of the Apuan Alps, some kilometers from Carrara. The town has been called Italy’s “Little Athens” because, for centuries, artists from all over the world have come here to make their sculptures in stone or bronze. Since the 15th century Pietrasanta is famous for its connection with marble and it has a long tradition of excellent “artigiani” (craftsmen) for stone. It is also the home for a large number of high quality bronze founderies for art.

Today sculptors still come to Pietrasanta and rent a place in one of the  studios for a long or short period of time. Here the old tradition of stone sculpture by hammer and chisel can be found next to computer sent machinery that cuts the stone with high precision.

For me this town always has been very important for my work. The knowledge of the craftsmen, the excess of different types of stone and the tradition of stone sculpture in the daily life of the people of Pietrasanta has always been an inspiration.

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Two men splitting a block in the quarry. The diamond wire only came into use in 1978.
Hard work for tough people. Quarrying marble has been a way of life in Carrara and in the quarries of the Apuan Alps for centuries. Many died doing the work. Streets here have names like “Via dei Martiri del Lavoro” … the “Martyrs of Work Way… ” A complicated history.

The “Lizza”, the transport of the marble blocks  from the quarries in the mountains.

The photos are from the book “Il marmo….ieri e oggi”  (Marble… yesterday and today) by Ilario Bessi, published by Societa Editrice Apuana, it describes how the marble industry in and around Carrara has progressed over the years.

In the first century BC, Greek marble started to be replaced by the Apuan marbles. The seaside city of Luni was built, from where stone blocks were shipped to all parts of the ancient world.

Important monuments arose, like The Pantheon and The Trajan Forum. Michelangelo came to Carrara in 1518 to search for the blocks to create his sculptures.

In the last century Carrara marble was exported all over the world and used in an infinite number of  monuments.

The book shows the history of methods for quarrying, transporting and processing marble in the past through a series of beautiful pictures by Ilario Bessi, accompanied by a short and fascinating text by Alessandro Conti.

I, in my own way, continue in the old tradition … albeit with more modern tools. I make my art in my studio in Pietrasanta, the center for stone sculpture in Italy.

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“What art offers is space, a certain breathing room for the spirit”
– Updike

I’m posting more of the sculptures that I made – inspired by the marble quarries of Carrara. I call these works “The Carrara Series.”

In this landscape, where the surface has been stripped off by centuries of human interaction, one can sense the powerful resilience of nature.

Here are two sculptures I made in this series, both in granite of course.

Carrara is located in the Apuan Alps and is where the world’s finest marble comes from. I use primarily granite – from all over the world – like Africa, America, India… and Brazil. I make my art in Pietrasanta, a short half-hour from the quarries.

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