Costantino Nivola

Sandscapes

Magazzino Italian Art
2700 Route 9
Cold Spring, NY

Magazzino’s latest exhibition takes as its subject famed Modernist sculptor Costantino Nivola, who died in 1988. “Nivola: Sandscapes,” a sprawling retrospective, offers insight into the Italian-American artist’s life as well as his broader artistic practice by bringing together archival images, maquettes, and a bevy of sculptures in relief and casting.

Fleeing rising fascism in Italy, Nivola immigrated to the U.S. in the 1930s, where he alighted in the vibrant New York art scene alongside contemporaries including Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. It was at his home on Long Island that Nivola developed his unique and unusual technique of sandcasting, in which he sculpted wet sand and poured plaster into the resulting cast. These works, many of them from early in his career and rarely exhibited, form the core of this exhibition. 

At the encouragement of Le Corbusier, Nivola also embarked on a series of large-scale public projects rooted in modernist theories of collaborative art and architecture. His 1953 panels for the Olivetti Showroom—the maquettes for which can be viewed in the show—reveal an expansion of Nivola’s sandcasting practice, demonstrating aspects of his process through plaster cast reliefs and serving as an example of the community-oriented direction of his work.

Costantino Nivola, Untitled, 1952-1953. Polychromed sandcast plaster (positive relief), 36 x 66 inches. Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, NY, gift of Sarah J. Lewis in memory of William B. Lewis. Photo by Marco Anelli. Courtesy Magazzino Italian Art.