Sergio De Guisti

Born 1941

Sergio De Giusti’s work has been widely exhibited in both the United States and Europe in such places as The Detroit Institute of Arts; The Newark Museum; The Tampa Museum; The Smithsonian; The British Museum in London, England; The Minnesota Museum of Art; The Council of Cultural Affairs in Stockholm, Sweden; The Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest, Hungary and at The Institute of Culture in Zacatecas, Mexico. He has produced bronze panels for the doors of The Church of San Vito in Maniago, Italy and designed official medallions for The Department of The Treasury in Washington DC.

In Detroit, De Giusti has created relief sculptures for the Italian Consulate offices, a commemorative relief for the Rick Finley United States Drug Enforcement Administration Building; a bronze relief for the Law School Building at Wayne State University; a bronze sculpture of General Anthony Wayne for Wayne State University’s Centennial Courtyard; a triptych for the Italian Heritage Room at Wayne State University; a memorial sculpture for The Wellness Health Center; a nine foot bronze free-standing relief for the main plaza of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan building; and the bronze Christ figure for the processional cross used at the Silverdome Mass during the Pope’s visit to Detroit in 1988.

Most recently, De Giusti has finished 29 bronze reliefs for The Labor Legacy Monument in Hart Plaza also in downtown Detroit.

Other Michigan commissions include twenty panels for the rotunda of the Library and Archives Building of the State of Michigan in Lansing, a three panel frieze for the Hidden Valley Recreational area in Gaylord, a relief for the Pine Lake Country Club of Orchard Lake, four bronze panels on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King for Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, two reliefs for the Nardin Park Methodist Church in Farmington Hills, a memorial sculpture for Trenton City Hall, and a sculpture for the Livonia Civic Center Library.

In addition to his ongoing work as a sculptor, De Giusti has taught art history and studio art classes at Wayne State University and sculpture at Center for Creative Studies-College of Art and Design in Detroit, Michigan. He has also taught sculpture at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center in Birmingham, Michigan, and was a visiting artist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Awards include a 1991 Michigan Creative Artist Grant, a 1996 Arts Achievement Award from Wayne State University, 2008 Wayne County International Artist Award and from the Republic of Italy for achievements in the field of art was bestowed the title of “Cavaliere”.

De Giusti received his B.F.A. (1966) and M.F.A. (1968) from Wayne State University, and currently resides in Redford, Michigan.

Artist Statement

Mr. De Giusti’s work, which is frequently in relief, has a mysterious power and complexity. For example, his relief entitled Images of Ur – Triptych is at the same time very old and very new, depending on how one looks at it. On first glance it reminds one of ancient Assyrian sculptures such as the reliefs of Ashurbanipal with their stiff warrior figures arrayed repetitively in row after row. This connection is emphasized by the title: Ur, one of the oldest cities in the world, was located in lower Mesopotamia. But on closer examination it becomes clear that the sculptor intends not only to allude to antiquity but to present-day events, specifically the Gulf War in which the United States and its allies drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. U.S. soldiers, with their distinctive helmets and cartridge belts, are seen clutching body bags while veiled Iraqi women uneasily observe them. Mr. De Giusti thus employs his art to show how the past and present mingle on the same stage of history.

This mingling is evident in other examples of Mr. De Giusti’s work, such as Benin Bell. The title and form of this sculpture recalls the African art of Benin and early twentieth century modernism in which African art is echoed. In its similarity to a Corinthian helmet, it also reminds the viewer of ancient Greek art. This eclecticism reflects the artist’s interest in the ethnographic and ritualistic aspects of art, especially of primitive art in which masks and other coverings connected with religious ceremony were employed. Perhaps the best representatives of the artist’s interest in religious ritual and older forms of art are his wrapped figures, two excellent examples of which, Fetish Figure I and II, are in the exhibition. These disturbing creations, which recall to the popular mind an Egyptian mummy, are for the artist symbols of Italian religious tradition in which shrouded images were carried in procession.

Mr. De Giusti’s modernist outlook is reflected in the way in which he treats his surfaces. In Images of Ur the artist achieves a broken, fragmented look by repeatedly stamping the clay surface with a wood block. In others, such as The Odyssey and The Conversion, the surface is animated by worm-like forms which cover both background and figures. This concern with the treatment of surfaces reflects Mr. De Giusti’s belief that in art the human act of creation is very important and that the process as evidenced by the artist’s “mark” must be visible. This modernist ideology helps link Mr. De Giusti’s work with that of his contemporary heroes and compatriots, Giacomo Manzu and Marino Marini.

-Irving Gumb

Works in the Park