- born China, 1933
Mark di Suvero is best known for his soaring steel structures. Often working on a monumental scale, di Suvero transforms industrial materials into evocative, dynamic abstractions. His work sometimes features movable elements and actively invites the viewer's participation.
Born in Shanghai, di Suvero grew up in California. He studied philosophy and fine arts at San Francisco City College and the University of California at both Santa Barbara and Berkeley. During these studies, he took an interest in art, especially sculpture. In 1957 he moved to New York. His earliest exhibited works were in plaster, wax, and wood.
Di Suvero's use of steel developed out of necessity. In 1960, he was crushed by a freight elevator. Following this serious accident, wood proved difficult to manipulate by hand. In essence, di Suvero used heavy machinery to "draw" in steel, making and erasing gestures on a vast scale. His early steel pieces incorporate railroad ties, scrap metal, tires, and structural steel. This exploration has transformed over time into a focus on modern construction materials like I-beams and heavy gauge metal. Di Suvero does much of the welding, cutting, and crane work himself.
In the 1960s, di Suvero protested the Vietnam War in several sculptures. He moved to Europe for four years in the early 1970s. A retrospective of his work at the Whitney Museum of American Art in the mid-1970s brought di Suvero greater prominence and acclaim. He has become especially known for what he calls "all city" shows--projects in which several of his often enormous forms are installed across a single city. Today, he divides his time between studios in France, California, and New York.