Studio Museo Francesco Messina

Francesco Messina

Artist | Porta Ticinese | The period after World War II


Sicilian, from Linguaglossa (1900), Franceso Messina moved to Genoa when he was very young. Self-taught, he focused on the tradition. He held the chair in sculpture at the Fine Arts Academy of Brera from 1934 to 1971. He won many important prizes and honors, including the Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1942, honorary Milanese citizenship in 1975, and appointment as an honorary member of the Academy of Fine Arts of Moscow in 1988. Important commissions included the statue of Christopher Columbus in Chiavari and the Minerva in Pavia. In the postwar era he created the Via Crucis of San Giovanni Rotondo, the dying horse sculpture of the RAI, the monument to Pius XII in Rome. He died in Milan in 1995.

You were born poor, desperately poor, Francesco. Your father took you away, with the whole family, from a Sicily scarred by hunger. He dreamt of America, but he stopped at Genoa. What remains for you of Linguaglossa, on the slopes of Mt. Aetna, except the myth of a homeland, the nostalgia for something you never knew except in the words of your parents? All your art was an art of nostalgia, a desire to return to the poised forms of an ideal classicism. Greece. But you still couldn’t know about this, when you lived a few steps from the house of Paganini and wandered the narrow back streets of Genoa, hungry, trying to make ends meet. You started working when…