Above image: Nino Curoso with work by Andy Warhol
Nino Caruso was born on April 19, 1928, in Tripoli and died January 19 in his beloved Rome. Ceramics has lost an extraordinary figure from the post-WW2 movement. His life changed when he was deported from Tripoli, Libya because of his political activity — Caruso returned to Italy. In late 1951 he was hired by his friend, the ceramist Salvatore Meli, to work as an assistant, where he soon developed an active interest in ceramics, earning a diploma in ceramics from the State Art Institute of Roma in 1954, and in 1954-1955 he opened a small studio in Rome where he created and sold his works.
In the mid-1970s he founded the International Ceramics Centre in the ancient monastery of the Confraternity of Pio Sodalizio dei Piceni (where he had moved his studio some time earlier), with the goal of creating a suitable environment for stimulating the study of ceramics for artists from both Italy and abroad. He began to explore the creative potential of repetition through the creation of forms made by slip casting clay into blocks of polystyrene (a previously unexplored material in ceramics). Using this technique, he produced modular elements of varying sizes and shapes, which he combined to create dividing walls, wall coverings, and decorative objects, consistently focusing on the relationship between ceramics and architecture.
At the age of 87 he and Mariastella Margozzi curated a massive exhibition La Scultura ceramica contemporanea in Italia (Contemporary ceramic sculpture in Italy) at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome with 180 works by over 60 artists that represents a survey of ceramic sculpture in Italy from the end of World War II to the present day.
His career is too multifaceted and busy to explain here with hundreds of exhibitions and projects across the world, educational projects, publications and workshops. We urge you to visit his excellent website and if you do not know of him, learn about one of the greats of our field.
A man of exceptional grace, generosity, charm and empathy, he was an international ambassador for the field across five continents. As an artist he was restless, active and unfailingly ambitious both in the content and scale of his exhibitions.
Please leave your memories of this powerhouse of contemporary ceramic art in the comments.