Carlo Zauli

Carlo Zauli is born in Faenza on August 19, 1926. From a young age, he demonstrates a remarkable manual aptitude that brings him to enroll in the ‘Royal’ Institute of Ceramic Art in 1937. At this school, later renamed in the memory of Gaetano Ballardini, he attends the technological studies course under the guidance of Anselmo Bucci and Domenico Rambelli. Zauli’s vocational education is interrupted in 1944 when he is deported to the labor camp in Hülz (Germany), but he returns to school just two years later and becomes Angelo Biancini’s student and collaborator. He obtains the Magister degree in ceramic technology in 1948, and, a year later, completes his studies with a specialization course in ceramic decoration. The sculptor’s long artistic journey begins in 1950 when, with his friends Uberto Zannoni, Averardo Giovannini, and Renato Zama, he takes over the studio of the ceramicist Mario Morelli, the Nuova della Croce, Faenza, where the Carlo Zauli Museum stands today. It is through the collection of the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza and the numerous art shows and contests keeps abreast of the great formal innovations that were taking place in the world of ceramics, revolutionized by artists such as Fontana, Picasso, and Mirò in the beginning of the 1950s. 1951-1955 Zauli begins his career working with the materials of traditional Italian ceramics. His first majolica pieces, from Asymmetric Vases to Double Vases, are inspired by Mediterranean fictile models. The artist achieves his first official acknowledgment in 1953, when he wins the Faenza Award for a polychrome majolica Asymmetric Vase in the 11th National Ceramic Competition. His first solo exhibition is held in 1954 at the Circolo Artistico in Bologna, featuring forty-eight majolica pieces that revealed an extraordinary chromatic sensibility. In the same year, Zauli participates in the 10th Milan Triennale (in which he also participates in 1957, 1964, and 1968), where he is introduced to the Informel ceramic research conducted by the artists of the CoBrA group and by the ‘Spatialist’ and ‘Nuclear’ artists, not to mention the ambient conceptions pursued by Lucio Fontana. The Faenzan artist also participates in the National Exhibitions of Pesaro, Messina, Monza, and Vicenza, winning numerous awards. It is during these years that Zauli first meets his friends Albert Diato, Nanni Valentini, and Giuseppe Spagnulo, who become frequent guests in his workshop. It is Diato who brings the interest in high-temperature materials typical of traditional oriental ceramics back from France. While continuing to make ceramic pieces in majolica, Zauli begins his technological research with stoneware. 1956-1961 Between 1956 and 1957, he obtains the first white glazes baked at 1200° C, the predecessors of the so-called ‘Zauli Whites.’ In a solo exhibition held at the Galleria Montenapoleone in Milan (1957), the artist presents approximately sixty pieces, all in stoneware, that constitute the first important results with this innovative material. In the same year, he exhibits numerous works of biomorphic appearance with Informel-style decoration at the Galleria del Vantaggio in Rome. 1958 is a year full of activity and success: Zauli wins the teaching position for Practical Technology-thus beginning his teaching career at the Institute of Ceramic Art in Faenza, which proceeds in parallel to his artistic research for over twenty years-, executes twenty-one bas-reliefs in polychrome majolica that make up the enormous (84 m2) frieze for the royal palace in Baghdad, and wins the Faenza Award again with the stoneware Large Irregular Ovoid Vase. In 1960, Zauli co-founds La Faenza, a factory that produces monocottura (single-fire) stoneware tiles instead of the traditional majolica. The artist participates in the planning of the interior surfaces and decor, and creates an avant-garde line of design. In the same year, Zauli exhibits Fifty-Eight Ceramic Pieces in a solo exhibition in Madrid. They are functional objects made in stoneware and covered in polychrome glazes; they are totem-like forms of elementary geometry, with decoration that still has traces of Informel. The artist continues to receive many acknowledgements in national and international contests: in Vicenza (Second Prize, 1957), Gubbio (Silver Medal, 1957; Second Prize, 1960 and 1962; First Prize, 1964), Lerici (Gold Medal of Public Instruction, 1960 and 1961), Gualdo Tadino (First Prize 1961: Third Prize, 1964; Gold Medal, 1967), Prague (Gold Medal, 1961), Cesena (Gold Medal, 1967), and Vallauris (Gold Medal, 1968). Zauli also continues his work with architectural, decorative friezes; in 1960, he executes a bas-relief (97 m2) for the Royal Hilton Hotel in Tehran (Iran) and,a year later, completes the large-scale high-relief for the Central Bank of Kuwait. 1962-1966 In 1962, Zauli wins the Faenza Award for the third time with the White Spherical Vase made in stoneware, thus distancing himself definitively from the majolica tradition of Faenza. The artist enters an artistic period in which he could be defined ‘a sculptor of vases.’ He subjects his vases to a progressive process of geometrical synthesis that, combined with a sort of abnormal growth, turns them into true sculptures. His studio receives frequent visits from Arnaldo and Giò Pomodoro, Giuseppe Spagnulo, Nanni Valentini, and Lucio Fontana. In 1964, Zauli exhibits in Japan for the first time in a travelling group exhibition that was held in various locations, including Tokyo, Kurume, Kyoto, and Nagoya. He also exhibits at the Galleria Penelope in Rome with Leoncillo, Fontana, Biancini, Gambone, Meli, Placidi, and Caruso. The solo exhibitions in Italy and abroad continue to be numerous, among which are Johannesburg (South Africa) and Rochester (USA, 1964). In 1966, Zauli finishes four large mural panels (three in white stoneware and one in majolica with a lustrous red glaze) for the Technical Commercial Institute in Faenza. The official acknowledgments continue to arrive: Zauli wins the Gold Meda for his modern interpretation of the ceramic tradition at the 2nd International Conference on Experimental Aesthetics in Verucchio, and receives the ‘Andrea Palladio’ Award for his design activity at the National Exhibition in Vicenza. The artist’s philosophy from the 1960s onward is summarized in the title of an essay he presents at the conference held by the International Academy of Ceramics, Geneva in 1966. The essay, entitled Creativity and Loyalty to Material, is supported by a “research of the expression of form, exalted and enlivened in the material itself.” The objects created in these years abandon the asymmetry typical of the decade before to take on elementaric geometric forms, comparable to certain works by Nanni Valentini and Ettore Sottsass. Remarkable in the Faenzan’s research was his interest in the tactile aspect of material, which leads him to obtain an extremely rich range of material tones, all tending towards the white monochrome that is later known as “Zauli White”. 1967-1980 Between 1967 and 1968, Zauli completes his evolution as a true sculptor. He reaches sculpture at the end of an exhaustive analysis of the language of ceramics, and after having fine-tuned the methodologies and techniques that allow for the production of large-scale stoneware projects. This is how the large Spheres, Wheels, Cubes, and Columns are born between 1968 and 1972. Zauli combines the ‘Zen line’ of ceramics, first introduced in Europe by Bernard Leach, with the Italian sculptural vision led by Leoncillo and Fontana. The artist begins his frequent interaction with the painters Enzo Brunori and Vittoria Lippi. He also meets Capogrossi, Afro, and Giulio Carlo Argan, the last of whom publishes Zauli’s first monograph in 1968. The sculptor’s work is displayed in numerous solo exhibitions in Lucca, Carpi, Cesena (1968), Reggio Emilia, Albissola (1969), and Bologna (1970). In 1970, Zauli is nominated as an “Academic Member” of the International Academy of Ceramics, Geneva and participates in a group exhibition presented by Yoshiaki Inui in Kyoto (Japan). 1972 is a year rich with artistic activity: he completes the Large Relief (850X260 cm) and the Column for the library and staircase in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Bologna, presents approximately forty stoneware pieces in a solo exhibition at the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels and at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. From 1973 to 1977, Zauli creates numerous works of strong material and earthy qualities, made with black stoneware, rich in manganese oxide. These new pieces are named Clods when they are small sculptures and Plowed Land when they develop into large relief panels. Zauli participates in the 10m Rome Quadriennale (1973) with five sculptures: Origin, Spherical, Pulsation, Matrial Twist, Mediterranean Quiver (cat.

no. 61), and Mediteranean Shape, later exhibited in the Galleria Forum in Trieste. The artist wins First Prize at the International Ceramic Exposition in Nagoya in the same year. Zauli continues to produce much more dynamic Spheres, Exploded Cubes, Material Steles, and Modulated Geometries in further refined gradations of white. These sculptures are meant to be engaged in a dialogue with natural space, to be installed out in the open. They would most appropriately be placed in a Zen garden, or in an architecturat environment in which they can expand in the form of a mural panel. These are the works through which the Faenzan artist is ‘discovered’ in Japan. In 1974, Zauli presents a large-scale personal exhibition that travelled through Osaka, Tokyo, Nagoya, and Kyoto, featuring 120 pieces that include not only ceramics but some bronze and silver sculptures as well. In 1975, the artist inaugurates a studio in Milan, though still maintaining the Faenzan studio where his large-scale projects are built. Zauli feels the need to confront big cities, to make contact with art circles in order to deepen and exchange his aesthetic, technical, and human experiences with other artists. His friendship with Amaldo and Gio Pomodoro continues. In these years, Zauli’s research is directed toward experimentation with the materials of traditional sculpture by taking on the techniques of bronze in the foundries of Milan, Bologna, and Verona, and challenging the hardness of marble from Pietrasanta. The sculptor presents solo exhibitions in Castellamonte, Parma, Pescara, and Cremona. He installs a large-scale high-relief in white stoneware and lead sheets at the INAIL (ltalian Workers’ Compensation Authority) headquarters in Milan. In 1976, he holds solo exhibitions in Ravenna, Imola, and Cremona. The public acknowledgments continue to arrive: he wins the ‘Golden Palette’ for Sculpture from the National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, the ‘1976 Romagna Prize’ in Cesena, and the ‘1976 Golden Rose’ for Arts in Venice In the second half of the 1970s, the elegant ‘Zauli Whites’ are put aside in favor of a completely new expressive and chromatic research. The artist inaugurates a new type of sculpture achieved through the distortion and assembling of wheel-thrown ceramic pieces. The first ‘distorted vases from 1976 are still glazed in white, but the vases that follow allow for a glimpse of the color of the clay, as they are only partially glazed in dark metallic tones; their expressiveness recalls the dramatic energy of Peter Voulkos. Zauli holds solo exhibit in Intra (Italy),Monchengladbach (Germany), and in Osaka (Japan), and accomplishes a large bas-relief for the Rural and Artisan Bank of Faenza. In 1978, on the occasion of his retirement from his professorship, Zauli directs a didactic experience called Action at the Institute of Ceramic Art in Faenza. In the same year, a major exhibition dedicated to the maestro’s Ten Years of Sculpture in Stoneware is held at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Faenza. Zauli also holds solo exhibitions at the Galleria La Loggia in Bologna and the Galleria Forum in Trieste. In 1979, the artist initiates a collaboration with Rosenthal of Selb (Germany). designing small sculptures to be made in porceiain in a numbered series. He holds solo exhibitions in Ferrara, Salice Terme, an Osaka, where he presents graphic works. In the following year, the artist nominated President of the ISIA (Higher Institute for Artistic Industries) in Faenza by the Ministry of Public Education and the Municipality of Faenza. He exhibits bronze and stoneware sculptures in solo exhibitions in Lissone, Modena, Padova, and Lugano (Italy), and in a travelling exhibition in Kyoto, Tokyo, and Fukuoka (Japan). 1981-1993 In the beginning of the 1980s, Carlo Zauli regains interest in his early polychrome works. He furthers his research of porcelain and different types of clay and glazes achieving results never seen in his former production. The artist makes small porcelain sculptures with glazes that are either strikingly dense in material or rich with celadon transparency. The forms are smoother and more sensual than ever, and are often glazed in the “Whites enlivened by subtle polychrome shadings. In 1981, the artist holds another travelling exhibition in Japan, presented in Fukuoka, Tokoname, and Tokyo. His sculptures are also presented in solo exhibitions in Carugate, Varese, and Torino. In the following year, he exhibits graphic work and sculpture in Zurich, Basel, Horgen (Switzerland), Reggio Emilia, and Forli (Italy). In 1983, Zauli is invited to participate in an exhibition held in Faenza, dedicated to the Maestros of Ceramics, together with Biancini, Chapallaz, Valentini, and Wilhelm and Elly Kuch. He also exhibits in Forli and Morimondo, continuing with exhibitions the following year in Modena, Limoges (France), Bologna, Prato, and Milan, where he receives a ‘Leading Ceramic Artists of 1984 award from the DIME Center. In his hometown, he creates a large-scale high-relief in polychrome porcelain for the Banca Popolare di Faenza. In 1985, he exhibits again in Horgen (Switzerland), and the following year he travels to Arlington (USA) where he executes a five meter-tall Cosmic Column in stoneware. In 1986, he participates in the Rome Quadriennale with five pieces in stoneware, including Stele Form and Waterfal. In 1987, Zauli begins a sculptural research in which he develops the gestural expressiveness of the distorted, forms. The explicitly sexual, wheel-thrown pieces are squashed into breasts and wombs of rough, textured clay that are sometimes glazed in precious glazes of brilliant turquoise. He holds a solo exhibition in Helsinki (Finland) at the Helsinki City Art Museum and at the Kajaani Art Museum. Zauli also presents his work in Casalecchio di Reno and installs a large-scale stoneware high-relief for the Conserve Italia Valfrutta Auditorium in Bologna. In 1988, Zauli continues his design activity for La Faenza with a new line of tiles entitled Third Dimension. He exhibits in Arzo (Switzerland) and in a group exhibition in Kyoto (Japan) with Bonaldi, Caruso, and Pianezzola. The following year, he presents solo exhibitions in Arzo (Switzerland), Moscow, and Napoli. In 1990, Zauli exhibits sculptures in stoneware, majolica, and porcelain in Hannover (Germany) and Brunico (ltaly), while in Castellamonte, the exhibition A Tribute to Maestro Carlo Zauli is dedicated in his honor. In the beginning of the 1990s, the Faenzan artist is diagnosed with a serious degenerative illness that causes a progressive deceleration of his creative activity. In these years, the sculptor carries out a true reassessment of form in his work. He creates Winged Cubes, Spheres, and Columns glazed in the classic “Zauli Whites” and enriched with splashes of red, blue, orange and green glazes. In 1991, Zauli presents a solo exhibition in Lugano (Switzerland) and, in the following year, he makes a Via Crucis for the Church of Christ the Savior in Acqui Terme. In 1993, he is awarded the ‘Golden Saint Valentine for Arts’ in Terni. In 1995, the artist exhibits at the Palazzo Ridotto in Cesena, while in Castellamonte his works are presented along with works by Picasso, Martini, Pomodoro, Baj, Fabbri, Sassu, and Fontana. In 1996, the artist is awarded the “Golden Medal of Merit” by the Civic Assembly of Faenza. Zauli is invited to inaugurate a section of a museum of art and industry in Caracas (Venezuela) to be dedicated to his work as a designer and sculptor. In 1997, he is invited as a guest of the “Fatti d’Arte” Association in Piacenza to exhibit in an anthological section. In 1998, two exhibitions are dedicated to him: A Tribute to Carlo Zauli in Castellamonte and the anthological Carło Zauli, Thirty Years of Sculpture 1965-1995 in Bologna. The artist is presented by Janet Mansfield and Garth Clark amongst the ten participating Artists of the World in the International Ceramics Museum of Faenza in 1999, and in the year 2000, he travels to Orlando (USA) for an exhibition organized by the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza in collaboration with Assopiastrelle (Association of Italian Ceramic Tile and Refractories Manufacturers) of Sassuolo. In the show he presents a large, white stoneware piece entitled Stele. Carlo Zauli, considered one of the most important innovators in ceramic art by art critics around the world, passes away in Faenza on January 14, 2002 after his prolonged illness. In the same year, a large-scale anthological exhibition entitled The Alchemy of Clay is dedicated to the artist by the Municipality of Faenza in collaboration with the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza. Additionally, on his family’s initiative, the Carlo Zauli Museum is opened in the studio on Via della Croce in Faenza.

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