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 Virgil David Cantini  (1919 - 2009)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania / Ecuador/Italy      Known for: enamel on metal sculpture

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An enamelist sculptor and educator, Virgil Cantini has been a prolific sculptor whose work, often large scale, is throughout the city of Pittsburgh including in the lobbies of office buildings, private homes and in outdoor public places. In collaboration with his wife, he has created enamel earrings.

Cantini was born in Italy and came to the United States in 1930. He attended Manhattan College and Carnegie Mellon University and then served in World War II in Africa, Europe and the Pacific as a sergeant in the Engineering Corps. Following the war, Cantini earned a Master's Degree from the University of Pittsburgh and then joined the faculty as Professor in the Henry Frick Fine Arts Department. From 1952 to 1999, he remained on the faculty of the Fine Arts Department, serving both as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Studio Arts. In 1953, Cantini was featured in "Time Magazine" as one of the 'Hundred Leaders of Tomorrow'.

Working in bronze, steel and enamel, Cantini is especially noted for large enamel-on-metal pieces with abstract and sometimes floral patterning. He has created these works by placing ground glass on the metal and then firing it in a kiln at 1500 degrees, a process whereby the ground glass fuses to the metal and takes on various colorations.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Cantini spent time in Ecuador where he taught artwork, focusing on tapestry making, to people so they could earn a living. One of his tapestries is at Duquesne University.

Following are descriptions and locations of some of his sculptures:

Outward waves of color, enamel on steel, individual panels totalling 40 feet by 12 feet; University of Pittsburgh Quadrangle Building

"Fountain of Joy People", Outdoor steel with running water; A highway island in East Liberty section of Pittsburgh

Enamel on Metal Panels, 15 feet by 20 feet; Oliver Plaza lobby in Pittsburgh

Enamel on Metal Panels, 20 feet by 35 feet; Science Building, University of Pittsburgh.

Wood Sculpture, "Woman and Lamb"; 7 feet in height; Hillman Library

Metal Glass Sculpture; 10 feet in height; In front of Law School building, University of Pittsburgh.

Sources include:
"Who's Who in American Art", 2003-2004

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