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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Enzo Plazzotta (1921–1981)

Sculptor. He was born in Mestre, near Venice, and studied at the Brera Academy in Milan, where one of his tutors was Giacomo Manzù. He was active in the Partisan movement during the Second World War, and at the end of the war was commissioned by the Italian Liberation Committee to create a statuette as a token for the assistance given to the movement by British Special Forces. This work, entitled The Spirit of Rebellion, showed the young David with the head of Goliath, and was presented to the Special Forces Club. Plazzotta came to London in connection with this commission, and lived here for the rest of his life. Between 1947 and 1962 he relinquished sculpture, returning to it at first principally as a portraitist. However, his main interest was the expression of movement and vitality in human and animal bodies. Dance, and particularly ballet, is a predominant feature of his work, and some of his dance pieces possess special interest as representations of celebrity performers. Plazzotta’s religious and mythological subjects are more sombre in character. He always retained contact with Italy, and in 1967 took a studio in Pietrasanta, from which he was able to supervise the casting of his many bronzes at the Tommasi foundry. During the 1980s, following his death, three of Plazzotta’s sculptures were erected in the public domain across London; Homage to Leonardo in Belgrave Square in 1984, Jeté at 48 Millbank in 1985, and Young Dancer in Broad Court, Covent Garden in 1988. The Homage to Leonardo, taking the form of a Vitruvian Man, was originally offered to Leonardo’s Italian birthplace, Vinci, but not accepted.

Bibliography (updated 2023): D. Buckman, Artists in Britain since 1945 (2 vols: A–L, M–Z), Bristol (1998), 2nd edn. 2006; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 32, 269–70; J. Seddon et al, Public Sculpture of Sussex, Liverpool, 2014, pp. 77–78; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 30, 31; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 10–11, 159, 412–13.

Philip Ward-Jackson 2011

Plazzotta, Enzo

Enzo Plazzotta (photo: © courtesy of Chris Beetles Gallery, St James’s, London)