War and peace (1968) Giacomo Manzù

Jannes Linders
About the artwork

Artist Giacomo Manzù has already caused a furore with his designs for church doors, including for St. Peter's in Rome. When the Laurenskerk was restored after the bombing in World War II, the storage and transshipment company Pakhuismeesteren (now Pakhoed-Holding NV) decided to give the city of Rotterdam bronze doors for the church on the occasion of the company's 150 anniversary in 1968 . Manzù, himself a Catholic, made a design in which religious themes did not play a dominant role. This also worked out well, since the Laurenskerk would not only have a religious function but also a worldly function as a cultural center. War and peace is the theme of both doors. Peace is represented in the arch above the doors by depicting a family: father, mother and child, while a naked young man with a waving cloth runs past in the background. He depicts the war on the doors by means of a soldier, who cuts into someone with a knife, with a crying child at his feet. A female figure reaches out her hand to a hanging man who is unconscious or dead. A drapery on the corner of one of the doors is very realistic and connects both scenes with each other. The only identifiable Christian symbolism is the image on the interior doors of a small pigeon and a pelican with young. These birds symbolize the Holy Spirit and Christ. For more information: Sculpture International Rotterdam.

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About the artist

The Italian sculptor Giacomo Manzù (Bergamo, 1908 - Rome, 1991) was the son of a sexton and started as a student at a woodcarver, where he made ecclesiastical statues. He then learned to make plaster from a plasterer and studied visual arts during his military service. His first assignment was to decorate the university chapel in Milan in 1930. His major breakthrough came in 1953 with his first solo exhibition. At that time he had made the well-known images “the Dance Pass” (1950) and “the Cardinal” (1952). He taught in Milan and Salzburg. His great examples were Donatello, Rodin and Rosso Fiorentino. He fits in the tradition of classical sculptors and can be called in the same breath with deserving traditional sculptors of all times and received various awards.

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