Paolo Staccioli: A Biography
Born in Scandicci (Florence) in 1943, Paolo Staccioli began his career as an artist in the 1970s, starting out as a painter and soon attracting attention at the local level. In the early 1990s, the need to experiment with a new artistic vocabulary prompted him to move to Faenza, to the workshop of a local ceramist and potter called Umberto Santandrea, where he learnt the techniques and skills associated with this particular art. It was here that Staccioli produced his first vases, initially adopting the glazed ceramic technique then gradually experimenting with “reduction” firing, which allowed him to achieve an extraordinary iridescence and sheen.Having fully mastered the technique, Staccioli then set up his own studiocum-workshop in Scandicci on the outskirts of Florence, where he continued under his own steam to experiment on a daily basis with the use of fire and of copper oxides, producing a vast range of vases which he then decorated with imaginary figurative narratives fixed for eternity by an enamel sheen. These works earned him his first true recognition and success at personal and collective exhibitions as well as at important cultural events: his ceramics with their strong metallic effect and sparkling enamel finish soon won praise for their elegance and originality not only in Florentine art circles but throughout the country.
The characters that populated the surfaces of his ceramics in this phase (merry-go-rounds with toy horses suspended in mid-air accompanied by winged putti, trumpet players, dolls and Pulcinellas) soon acquired a third dimension, translating into sculptures yet without losing their fairy-tale aura, their extraneity to all notion of time or place: idealized shapes reminiscent of pre-Roman statuary (of Etruscan sculpture in particular), to which the polychromy of ceramic added a vigorous effect of contrasting masses. Warriors, travellers, cardinals and horses soon joined the already varied throng of imaginary figures and began, in the second half of the 1990s, to add their lively touch to major public and private collections both in Italy and abroad. In the early part of the new millennium, in his eagerness to experiment with new materials and with different expressive registers thanks to the use of those materials, Staccioli began to translate his ideas into the more lasting medium of bronze (albeit without ever losing his love of working with earthenware), moving away from research into copper oxides and towards metallic patinas. It was in this more recent phase that his figures took on a previously unknown monumentality, which tends to set his horses and his warriors even more firmly in a dimension outside of time.
Paolo Staccioli has won an enormous amount of praise and recognition both from critics and from the general public, especially over the past ten years, and he has taken part in awards and exhibitions that have won him a place of absolute prestige in the field of contemporary art.