Giacomo Manzù is the pseudonym of Giacomo Manzoni, he was the most famous sculptor in Italy during the 20th century.He was the eleventh child of a shoemaker and sacristan. Soon he begins to carve wood. During military service in Verona he approaches art: he studies the doors of the Basilica of San Zeno and the copies of the Accademia di Belle Arti Gian Bettino Cignaroli (1927/1928). Except for a few art classes, he was essentially a self-taught sculptor.
In 1929, after a stay in Paris, Manzù goes to live in Milan, where the architect Giovanni Muzio orders him to decorate the chapel of the Catholic University, and he will do it between 1931 and 1932. This year he participates in a collective exhibition.
He gained recognition from Western museums and collectors as an important modern artist. On the other hand, Giacomo Manzù was a Communist and also recognized in the Soviet artistic world, he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1965. Even so, he was a Catholic and a personal friend of Pope John XXIII, and he was commissioned important works for St Peter's basilica.
In the United States, the architect Minoru Yamasaki commissioned him to carry out the work called Passo di Danza in the One Woodward Avenue building in Detroit.
In 1940, Manzù obtained the chair of sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Brera, but he had to leave it for his discussions with the academic authorities. His nude Francesca Blanc wins the Quadriennale di Roma in 1943. In the postwar period he recovers his work at the Accademia de Brera, until 1954, and then in Salzburg until 1960. Here he meets Schabel, who will be his companion and mother of Giulia and Mileto. Make the Porta dell'Amore for the Salzburg Cathedral (1955-1958).
Start working on the Porta della Morte for the Basilica of San Pedro del Vaticano (completed in 1964). In 1964 Manzù will go to live in the village Ardea (Rome), in the town of Campo del Fico. He made the Porta della Pace e della Guerra for the church of Saint Laurens in Rotterdam (1965-1968). He also exhibited in Tokyo.
In the sixties he worked as a set designer, for operas by Igor Stravinskij (Oedipus king of 1964), Goffredo Petrassi, Claude Debussy, Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi.
The monument to the partigiano in Bergamo, was inaugurated in 1977. In this city many of his works are kept in the Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo. In 1979 Manzù donated his entire collection (the "Raccolta amici di Manzù" founded in 1969, in Ardea) to the Italian State. In 1989, in New York, the last of his great works was inaugurated on the UN facade: a 6 meter bronze sculpture..