Mario Nardin has been a veteran of Polich Tallix since 1977. He is our foremost expert in metal finishing and chasing. We asked Mario a few questions about his time at the foundry. Here’s what he had to say:
PT: Tell us about your background, education and training in the arts….
MN: I was born in Venice, Italy. I began my education in the arts at Accademia di Bella Arte in Venice then moved to London in 1959 and became an assistant to internationally acclaimed sculptor Fiore de Henriquez. I traveled to New York to work on a commission with her in 1962, a racehorse at Roosevelt Raceway. She introduced me to her friend, renowned sculptor Jaccques Lipchitz, who asked me to stay in the United States and become his assistant.
I stayed with Jacques until his death. At the same time, I pursued my own career as a sculptor, exhibiting in galleries in Europe, Italy, Colorado and the New York City metropolitan area. My work is in the permanent collections of the Hudson River Museum and Fordham University, installed at the entrance of City Hall in Santa Rosa, California, and in numerous private collections in the United States, Canada and Europe.
PT: What does working at Polich Tallix mean to you?
MN: Working at PT gives me the opportunity to collaborate and work with some of the world’s leading artists. It’s wonderful to work with a young artist like Sabin Howard who creates such expressive, sensual sculptures and who speaks with me in Italian and respects the years of experience I bring to his work. It’s nice to be able to joke with someone like Tom Otterness who likes to make you laugh. It’s fulfilling to work with a demanding client and be able to give him not just what he expects but more. It’s great to work with my creative colleagues here at PT and exchange ideas and work on solutions to challenges. I especially enjoy the opportunities to teach newer workers and passing on all the skills I’ve learned over the years from other artists and through my own experiences. Working in such a creative environment makes working at PT more than a job for an artist.
PT: Tell us about some of the most challenging projects you have encountered during your career at PT?
MN: I always have challenging projects at PT because of the many artists who produce sculptures here and the range of styles of their work. Bart Walter captures the essence of animals and they are particularly challenging to a finisher because it is so difficult to reproduce the textures he creates in the originals and still retain the realism of form and movement. The whimsical figures of Tom Otterness require perfection in polishing. Martin Puryear’s wooden sculptures are also a challenge because it is necessary to reproduce the same textures he creates in wood, in metal.
PT: When you look back at the numerous projects you have worked on in 35 years at the foundry, can you single out a favorite?
MN: My favorite project was the installation of Claes Oldenburg’s Valentine Perfume Bottle as the focal piece at the Venice Biennale in 1997. I was sent by PT to work with and translate for Mr. Oldenburg. Of course, I am a Venetian so I was happy to be returning and working there but the opportunity to work so closely with a legendary master artist on an important project was an incredible and memorable experience.