Umberto Mastroianni is considered one of the most important Italian artists of the twentieth century. He was born into a family of artists in 1910 in Fontana Liri, and worked in the family’s workshop from a young age. He studied sculpture and went on to make sculptures in bronze and natural stone. Later in his career he also made prints. In 1926 he settled in Turin, where he lived and worked for most of his life.
Initially Mastroianni made busts and portraits in a classical style. At this time he remained immune to the new ideas about art that had been introduced around 1910 by the Italian Futurists. His first solo exhibition of classical works was held in Geneva in 1931.
Although Mastroianni almost always based his works on visible reality, from 1941 his work became more abstract both in style and subject matter, for example a cloud. In the human figures that won him international recognition in the 1950s he returned to the visual language of early Cubism and Futurism.
He used plastic forms, introduced tension through contrasting forms and created rhythm and dynamism through the repetition of forms. Nonetheless, the human aspect of the figures remains the principle element in his sculptures, which are therefore more than simply studies of form and movement. In the 1960s his sculptures became more jagged and the solid, plastic forms made way for more open structures.
Following a long career, during which international attention for his work gradually waned, Mastroianni died in 1998 at the age of 88 in Marino in Italy.