Colpo d'ala

Historical Background

Arnaldo Pomodoro, 1988. 18' x 13' x 13'. Department of Water and Power building, 1st and Hope.
"Colpo d'ala"(wing-beat) is distinguished from other public monuments in downtown by remembering a national as well as an international endeavor. The Marshall Plan was an historic effort in which the United States, motivated by a mix of high-minded altruism and national self-interest, financed the restoration of Europe's war ravaged economies.

In gratitude for the $1.5 billion Italy received between 1948 and 1952, Italian Prime Minister Ciriaco De Mita presented the six ton bronze sculpture to the United States on December 12, 1988 at dedication ceremonies commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. Los Angeles was selected as the site for the gift because the city represents the "the model American city of the Space Age."

The Italian Government commissioned the gift less than six months before its unveiling. Pomodoro did not have time to design a new piece, so he offered "Colpo d'ala", which was already at the foundry. This sculpture is a larger version of "Colpo d'ala A Boccioni" commissioned in 1981 by the city of Morciano in homage of Umberto Boccioni(1882-1916), the prominent Italian Futurist who lived there. Both works harken back to Boccioni by combining the sense of mechanical force with the suggestion of movement. The sculpture, which is tilted upward like a bird beginning its assent, appears to be a highly polished triangular block ripped in half by a powerful invisible force, creating a "wing beat" shape.

Two recurring themes in Pomodoro's work--the perfect form torn asunder and the striking contrast between a smooth surface and a complex interior--are apparent in "Colpo d'ala". The exposed mechanistic interior identifies the work as created by man while the allusion to a bird suggests nature.

Pomodoro felt the reference to a bird, symbolizing the Marshall Plan's goals of peace and freedom, would be enhanced by placing the sculpture within a reflecting pool. A model of the piece was sent to Los Angeles to assist the city in finding an appropriate setting. After conducting structural tests on the roof of the Department of Water & Power garage, the Department of Public Works approved the location. Pomodoro oriented the sculpture, which can be rotated manually, to point west as a symbolic gesture to the connection between Los Angeles and the Pacific Rim.

The text has been provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, January 1998.

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