THE ITALIAN FACTOR
THE PICCIRILLI STORY
From the Republic's early days, sculptors struggled to express the nation's values into motionless characters, taller than those who pass by at their feet, characters that could relate in a silent language high legend of glory, war, and knowledge. In Baudelaire’s own words, they were aiming to create a garden of public figures “were you the most carefree of men, the unhappiest or the meanest, a beggar or a banker, the stone phantom seizes you for a few instants and orders you, in the name of the past, to think of things which are not of this world.”
Their effort came not without great sacrifice. American sculptors initially relayed the collaboration with European foundries for their bronzes and stone cutters for monuments made from the blocks of the same marble mined in Carrara since the times of Michelangelo Buonarotti. The raw material was heavy and expensive to transport across the ocean, and it required the know-how of Italian stone carvers. This dependency on Italian marble and artisans made it so that the early American sculptors needed to be sufficiently resourceful to afford the costs of what clearly was an elitist choice.
However, with the arrival to America of several Italian sculptors in the mid-1880s, the dynamics of the trade changed, now propitiating a more efficient and affordable production model in which the local artist could have their monuments rendered faster and at a lower cost. The paradigm change contributed to the fast-growing production of architectural sculptures and private and public commissions for monuments and memorials. This period is what Art and architectural historians like Richard Guy Wilson (UVA) define as The American Renascence, an age that was made possible by the contributions of Italian immigrants.
The Italian Factor's estimated production time is projected to be twenty-four months. The documentary will be 60 minutes and in compliance with the highest standards required by major networks. We believe our largest audience will be amongst public and academic libraries with distributors such as Kanopy and Alexander Street Press.
A tentative Advisory Committee is in place and includes Michele Bogart, Richard Guy Wilson, Gwen Peer, Williams Cosby, Jeffrey Plank, Thayer Tolles, Caterina Pierre, Lisa Ackerman, Jonathan Kuhn, Richard Moylan, Susan Menconi, Karen Lemmey, Brian Andersson, Joseph Sciorra, William Sherman, Joel Rosenkranz and other.
The Piccirilli Brothers, one of the chapters in the recent documentary "Daniel Chester French: American Sculptor", served as a trigger to kickstart the development of a more profound look into the contributions of Italian artists to the American Renaissance.
The estimated budget for The Italian Factor is $340,000, to be raised by Heritage Film Project in collaboration with The Columbus Citizens Foundation, a non-profit organization in New York City committed to fostering an appreciation of Italian American heritage and achievement.
The Italian Factor landing page is regularly updated for accuracy.