Charlie Kaplan’s strong ties to Italy, in particular to the historic and revered sculpture tradition of Pietrasanta, have been recognized once again by the local Comune di Pietrasanta. The area came to artistic importance during the Renaissance, further enhanced when Michelangelo recognized the beauty and purity of the marble found in the surrounding Apuan Alps, using it to create his most famous works in Florence and Rome. Since that time the city has continued to grow as a center for processing marble and bronze, becoming a mecca for artists from all over the world.
Although Kaplan has participated in numerous exhibitions in and around Tuscany, he is one of the few American sculptors included in Omaggio agli Artigiani, a celebration of the centuries-old tradition of foundries and marble processing studios in the area. Home to over 50 workshops for marble and bronze, Pietrasanta sought to honor the expert artisans who continue to collaborate with world renowned sculptors, as they have been doing for centuries. This exhibition features work by 13 international sculptors spread throughout the Marina di Pietrasanta, an homage to both the individual sculptural works themselves and to the master fabricators who facilitated them.
Shroud, Charlie’s majestic white marble sculpture, was placed in a prominent position at the entrance to the pier at the marina. One of the many sculptures Kaplan has created in his studio there, it was chosen for its beautiful form, sense of scale and purity of stone. Acknowledging the artisans and fabricators he has worked with for decades at the famed Giorgio Angeli Studio di Scultura d’Arte and at Fattoria Mariani was important to Charlie. As he often says, the Fratelli Galeotti, Marco Maretti and the amazing 86-year-old Mirio Viviani are an integral part of his team.
In addition to working in his California studio with marble and stone imported from Italy, Kaplan has also spent long periods of time at his studio in Pietrasanta over the past thirty years, mastering and enhancing his formidable skills in stone carving as well as working in bronze and other metals. As he says candidly “I started carving stone one day and fell in love with it and just kept doing it…it’s not about the product, it’s about the process, it’s the process that is the magic.”
Omaggio agli Artigiani adds to the city’s feel of being an open-air museum as it strategically places artwork in key venues in the town center and on the waterfront. Originally scheduled to end in October 2022, the exhibition has been so popular with visitors from around the world as well as local residents that the organizers have decided to extend it through the end of 2023.