Arterio di Modica, a Sicilian-born sculptor best known for the “charging bull” of a illegally deposited 3.5-ton brass combative man in Lower Manhattan in 1989 at his home in Vitoria, Italy, on Friday But died He Was 80.
His death was confirmed by his dealer Jacob Harmer, who did not explain the cause, but said that Mr. Di Modica had been ill for many years.
The “charging bull”, created by Mr. Di Modica with his own hands and with his own money, quickly became one of the most famous works of art in the country and a photogenic draw for millions of tourists – many of them about it. Illegal origins are probably unknown.
Mr. Di Modica grew up poor in Sicily, and loved an immigrant for his adopted home. With the country – or at least Wall Street – still concerned with “Black Monday”, the day when the market fell 20 percent in a single session in 1987, he wanted to present the country in a good way, one he That said, signifies “future”.
He was not allowed to keep his huge statue outside the New York Stock Exchange.
Mr. Di Modica spent the night scouting Wall Street after midnight, deciding how good police officers passed, deciding that good intentions trampled petty cases like city permits.
Then, at around 1 a.m. on December 15, he loaded his sculpture on a flatbed truck and walked into Broad Street, next to the stock exchange, where about 40 of his friends were waiting.
But there was a problem: Ever since the last time he went there, the stock exchange had erected a huge Christmas tree, exactly where he wanted to deposit the “charged bull”.
“Drop the bull under the tree,” he shouted. “This is my gift.”
Stock Exchange officials, however, did not appreciate its benefits, and that afternoon they had constructed the sculpture for a police warehouse in Queens.
Mr. Di Modica was distraught, but that evening he received an offer to move the sculpture to a nearby Bowling Green, a park at the foot of Broadway. He Visited the warehouse and paid a $ 500 fine, and on December 20, the sculpture took its new residence to a traffic island, where it has remained for 33 years, ready forever to charge through the financial district is.
Arturo Ugo Di Modica was born on January 26, 1941 in the city of Sicily, Vittoria. His father, Giuseppe, was the owner of a grocery store; His mother, Angela, was a housewife.
In 1960, against the wishes of his parents, he left home for Florence, where he attended classes at the Academy of Fine Arts, did odd jobs and tried to establish himself as a sculptor. He He was so poor that he could not use a foundry or even buy metal tools, so he designed his own cloth.
He His work received critical acclaim for the 1968 show, which at the time was abstract and influenced by Henry Moore. He Moved to Manhattan in 1970 and set up a studio on Grand Street in the Soho neighborhood there, in the early flush of its Bohemian-artist stage. Mr. Di Modica fit right in, often crafting his monumental stones and bronze from the front on the road.
His first big New York show in 1977, at Battery Park, was a disappointment; Some people showed up, and not a single critic participated. Irritated, Mr. Di Modica hired three trucks, and he and a group of friends transported eight of his giant statues to the city, to the Rockefeller Center, where he deposited them in the dead of night.
He Was ordered to pay a small fine – but said he soon sold all eight works.
Mr. Di Modica made a similar move on Valentine’s Day in 1985 when, in broad daylight, he had a semi-sculpture of a horse named “Il Cavallo” in the back of his car, wrapped in a red blanket. Wrote “Be My Valentine NY Love Eddie.” He It left it on the plaza at Lincoln Center, surrounded by spectators.
If Mr. Di Modica was less famous than some of his contemporaries in the New York art world in the 1980s, it was partly because he tried his best to stay out of it. Some of his friends were artists; He rarely attended parties, and until 2012 there was not even a dealer to represent him.
Nevertheless, by 1987 he had built a roster of wealthy customers and earned enough money to buy a Ferrari 328 GTS and often dined at the Manhattan-based power-lunch establishment Cipriani.
“He When he ran away from home, he could not think of what his dealer, Mr. Harmar, said. “He Felt indebted to America. “
And so, when the stock market dropped that November, sending the country into panic, he felt he had to act. Spending two years and $ 325,000 of his own funds, he devised the “charging bull”, a work he later called the “strength and determination” of the American people.
The sculpture was put up for sale in the 1990s by Mr. Di Modica, but he declined an offer that would take it to a casino in Las Vegas. He It was eventually sold to British investor Joe Lewis on the condition that Mr Lewis never transferred it from his Bowling Green location. The amount paid by Mr. Lewis was not made public, but Mr. de Modica’s original asking price was $ 5 million. (Mr. Lewis purchased several other copies of the sculpture.)
In 2000, Mr. Di Modica married Stephania Oriana Drago, who survived him, along with his daughter Mariana, and a stepdaughter, Nadia. Complete information on the survivors was not immediately available.
Mr. Di Modica was extremely protective of his work. In 2006, he sued Walmart and several other companies for using images of “Charge Bull” on their products.
Along with tourists, the work attracted more than its share of street-style critical responses. In 2008 and again in 2017, it was vandalized with paint, and in 2019 a man attacked what the witnesses said looked like a metal banjo, with a six-inch horn in one of its horns. There was gush. During the Occupy Wall Street protests, in 2011, police surrounded it with a long fence, fearing that activists might attack it as a symbol of American capitalism.
One night in 2017, artist Kristen Visible, Min. With the original stunt of Di Modica, illegally deposited his bronze statue standing in front of his statue – this is a bronze girl in ponies, standing with a “chart bull” with her fist on her hips.
Ms. Visible called her work “Fearless Girl”, and was an immediate tourist draw in the same way. But Mr. Di Modica was unhappy, stating that Ms. Visbal had changed the meaning of her work, giving it a hypermasculin model for girl power rather than an image of universal optimism.
In 2018 “Fearless Girl” was moved in front of the New York Stock Exchange, not far from where Mr. Di Modica left “Charging Bull” that night in 1989.
In the late 2000s, Mr. de Modica spent more and more time in his hometown of Vittoria, where he had purchased 13 acres for a sculpture school. He Poured money into the project, eventually helping to finance it by selling its Soho studio.
Despite the constant battle with intestinal cancer and other diseases, he focused on another monumental sculpture, his largest yet: two 40-foot-high rear horses – the prototype, he said, for a 132-foot work that someone Near Vittoria will be an obstacle to the river flowing.
He He completed prototype work in 2019, even working on deteriorating his health. At the time of his death, he was embarking on the final version.
“I should get this done,” he told Mr. Hammer. “I’ll die while working.”