The Virginio Ferrari Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded by a family of artists: Virginio Ferrari, his wife, Marisa Boccaccini Ferrari and their three sons Alberto Ferrari, Fabio Ferrari and Marco G. Ferrari.

It is a platform that maintains, preserves and advances the understanding and appreciation of Virginio Ferrari’s art and legacy, by providing access to his artwork, archives and resources and by developing educational programs and community-based initiatives.

Our mission is to create experiences and provide spaces to artists, scholars and the public that can generate dialog and thinking. Our work creatively bridges resources in Italy and Chicago to inaugurate interdisciplinary projects that engage with the public to revitalize ideas and humanize places. We value the dedication to process and the spirit of collaboration in art to help further understand our relationship to the environment on Chicago’s South Side, Italy and beyond.

Virginio Ferrari (b. 1937) is an internationally acclaimed contemporary Italian-American sculptor who’s monumental sculptures can be found on street corners and public parks, at universities and libraries, corporations and in private collections in Chicago, and all over the world. His work is preoccupied with creating situations that delight the eye, allowing for the interaction of sculpture and the casual observer, giving the modern city a human dimension.

He was born in Verona, Italy where he graduated from the Scuola D’Arte N. Nanni and from the Accademia Cignaroli (1959), where he received his first teaching assignment. His father and grandfather were stonecutters who established a deep respect for craftsmanship, and he continued this tradition, having his first solo exhibit in Venice, in 1962, at the age of 24. In 1964 he married Marisa Boccaccini and they subsequently moved to Chicago where he was invited to be Assistant Professor of Art and Sculptor in Residence at the University of Chicago from 1966-1976. Since then Virginio and Marisa have remained in Chicago, raising three children in Hyde Park, while Virginio devoted his full energies to sculpting.

With over thirty monumental public sculptures in Chicago alone and other works acquired by civic, museum, and corporate collections in Atlanta, Deyang, Florence, Guayaquil, Los Angeles, Milan, Philadelphia, Parma, Rome, Shanghai and Verona, Ferrari has been a constant presence in the international art field resulting in over 50 solo exhibitions, while participating in more than 150 group shows.

His work has been described as lyrical abstract sculpture in bronze, stainless steel, marble and granite. His stylistic development has included transitions in expressionistic and surrealistic forms and has evolved towards geometric reduction with a minimum of means, yielding sculptures distinguished by massive force and dynamic tension. Running throughout his art even in his most formalistic works is a persistent search for life essences, a long exploration of the evolving condition of humanity and the challenges it may be presently facing.

Ferrari’s public works integrate sculpture into the architectural environment, often playfully in contrast to it, always offering opportunities for a renewed sense of ownership for the passerby. His mission has always been to humanize urban space through craftsmanship and collaboration and, through this process, to transmit positive values in sculptural form.

He holds many awards for his achievements, including the Illinois State Service Award for outstanding contributions as a sculptor who has vitalized and humanized urban spaces. Honored by the president of Italy, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, Ferrari was awarded the Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Officer–Order of Merit of the Italian Republic) in 1992, for his important contributions to the international art world. He received the medal of the City of Verona and the Illinois Art Council Governor’s Award based on his 2003 anthological retrospective exhibit Ombre della Sera:1958-2003 at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea-Palazzo Forti, Verona, Italy.

*For detailed information on Virginio Ferrari’s artwork please visit www.virginioferrari.com

Foundation History

Collaboration and family participation have always been a central part to Virginio’s practice. Since immigrating to Chicago from Verona, Italy, he established a collaborative process to work with international artists, architects, scholars, and communities creating opportunities in both his adopted city and native land. Throughout his career his family has been a core aspect to his success and inspiration often involving them in the production of projects––his wife Marisa with photography and administration, and sons Alberto with graphic design, Fabio with writing, and Marco with curatorial and film/video work.

Throughout the years the various studios Virginio has held have inspired his work and acted as catalysts for community involvement within the diverse neighborhoods they were located in, ranging from: Printers Rowe in the downtown area; Grand Avenue & Humboldt Park on Chicago’s West Side; Hyde Park and Bridgeport on Chicago’s South Side. In 2001 the City of Verona granted Ferrari the use of an abandoned old armory to produce, store work and run public workshops leading up to and after his 2003 retrospective exhibit “Ombre della sera” at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna-Palzzo Forti, Verona, Italy. In 2009 he moved his studio to a summer home with an atelier, gallery and sculpture garden in Guardistallo, Italy. In 2018 he donated the environmental sculpture, Forme della terra (2018), to the municipality of Guardistallo, which is located in the town’s entrance.

Inspired by his father’s value on place, participation, craft and intimate approach to creativity, Marco produced his first documentary feature film “Full Circle” (1999-2003) on his father’s work for Virginio’s retrospective exhibit in Verona, Italy. In that time, Marco with the help of his brothers, established Ferrari Studios (1999) to connect and extend the family’s respective creative practices while utilizing Virginio’s studios as shared spaces for initiatives ranging from workshops, happenings and exhibitions. In 2017 through family collaboration and with the support of Virginio’s art collectors and friends, a 600 page monograph art book titled “Virginio Ferrari: Full Circle; 1957-2017” (curated by Marco) was self-published which documents Virginio’s 60 years of artistic activity.

It is in this light that the Virginio Ferrari Foundation was formed as it will support the need to preserve Virginio’s on going activity, artworks and resources, solidify the family’s participation in the project working through their respective creative fields, and to continue to build new modes of production and methods of collaboration with local and international art communities.

Staff

Creative Director & Curator:
Marco G. Ferrari

Graphic Design:
Alberto Ferrari

Writer:
Fabio Ferrari

Current Assistants:
Barbara Greco
Lavinia Giardina
Sabrina Italia
Andrea Cincotti
Gabriel Stein

Board Members

Virginio Ferrari | Marisa Ferrari | Alberto Ferrari | Fabio Ferrari | Marco G. Ferrari | Dr. Manfred and Ingrid Raiser | Eva Loseth | Jason Verbeek | Christopher Considine