Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sausalito Seal, Benny Bufano, Sausalito Shoreline, SF Bay

Seagull enjoying Benny Bufano's seal sculpture on the Sausalito Shoreline, San Francisco Bay.

Many people do not remember Benny, even though his work is throughout San Francisco and the surrounding S F Bay area. Below is some history on Benny from Wikipedia.

Beniamino Benvenuto Bufano (October 15, 1890 - August 18, 1970) was a California-based Italian American sculptor, best known for his large-scale monuments, usually of granite. His modernist work often featured smoothly rounded animals and relatively simple shapes.

Bufano was born in San Fele, Italy. He moved with his parents and 11 siblings to the United States at age 3.[1] He spent his childhood in New York City and was educated by private tutors. He studied at the Art Students League of New York during 1913–15.

In 1915, Bufano entered a nationwide art competition and exhibit on the theme "The Immigrant in America". Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, founder of theWhitney Museum of American Art, funded the contest and offered $1,100 in prize money. The exhibit was held in the Whitney Studio Club at 8 West 8th Street in Greenwich Village, which Whitney established to exhibit the work of young artists. The Immigrants in America Review administered the contest.Francis A. Kellor, who had been top committeewoman in former President Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party, headed the Review.[2] Roosevelt visited the exhibit of the 100 works entered in the contest, which added to its prestige and the notoriety of its prize winners. Bufano, then a virtual unknown, won the first prize of $500 with a sculpture in tile, granite and steel entitled Peace.[3][4] Buffano's theme contrasted with most of the entries, which focused on the immigrants' struggle for survival in their new homeland. The New York Times reported on Roosevelt's visit to the exhibit. Roosevelt used the occasion to inveigh against cubist art, but singled out Bufano's prize-winning sculpture for praise. "Wonderful work", he exclaimed to the Times, "I should like to meet the sculptor."[5]

"Bene" Bufano, as his friends referred to him, though this soon morphed into the Americanized, "Bennie" in the hands of the press, first came to San Francisco to work on a sculpture for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, alongside Dirk van Erp. He joined Mrs. Whitney in San Francisco who had several of her own sculptures in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. []. Afterwards, he traveled extensively before returning to settle permanently in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Considered an outspoken radical at the time, Bufano chopped off his trigger finger and sent it to President Woodrow Wilson at the onset of World War I as a protest against the war. In addition to his work as a sculptor, he taught at the San Francisco Institute of Art (but was dismissed in 1923 because he was considered too modern), the University of California, Berkeley, and Oakland's California College of Arts and Crafts.

Bufano is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California

No comments: