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The Rockefeller Center and Piccirilli | Watch Video

The murals designed by Attilio for the Rockefeller Center represent a continuation of the modernist style he cultivated. The bas-relief panel presiding over the Fireman’s Memorial in Riverside and several of his memorials at Woodlawn Cemetery seem to pre-announce the arrival of these four magnificent panels unveiled in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.

Youth Leading Industry

Seated atop the entrance to The Lego Store, was crafted to capture the energy of a modern future emerging in Italy at a time when Americans viewed Mussolini with admiration. Over the next decade, those sympathies would be reconsidered, and Piccirilli’s work contested. Youth Leading Industry was cast in forty-five Pyrex glass blocks, a groundbreaking use of Pyrex as an artistic material. Lit from behind, it became an instant highlight of an evening stroll down Fifth Avenue.

The Rockefeller Center
News from Attilio Piccirilli Murals

Commerce and Industry with a Caduceus

Just above Youth Leading Industry is a large polychrome-painted limestone cartouche depicting two monumental-sized figures symbolizing the basic trades of the nation. The male figure represents commerce, while the female figure symbolizes industry. The large caduceus placed between the two figures symbolizes Mercury, the god of trade.

Joy of Life

Around the corner is Joy of Life, a composition that enthrones Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, as the main protagonist in the scene—a curious choice considering John D. Rockefeller’s modest nature and firm advocacy of the Temperance Movement. Yet, the composition portrays a libertine ideal of joy, with Bacchus taking center stage in what seems to be a lively party. Attilio was finally distancing himself from the formalities of the prevailing neoclassical representation of previous decades and embracing the changes sweeping almost everywhere else in the Western Hemisphere.

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