NYC - Rockefeller Center: 636 Fifth Avenue - Youth Leading Industry
Attilio Piccirilli's Youth Leading Industry has adorned the entrance of the International Building at 636 Fifth Avenue since its installation in May, 1936. Lit from behind, it remains an evening spectacle on Fifth Avenue. Directly above it is another of Piccirilli's works, Commerce and Industry with a Caduceus.
Cast by the Italian-American Piccirilli, the 16-foot high by 10-foot-wide relief glorified the burgeoning political movement in Italy under the leadership of Benito Mussolini. Ironically, though, Piccirilli's nephew served and died in World War II as an American soldier. The Neo-Roman theme was typical of 1930's fascism--the youth shall lead the way towards better times. The near-nude figure dashing ahead of the rearing horses represents empowerment and destiny, the chariot representing strenght of industry and transportation. They are controlled by a confident leader (the charioteer) guiding them towards the future.
The bas-relief was cast in 45 Pyrex glass blocks, each hand-cast and unique. After casting, the models and molds were destroyed. No two ware alike and no replicas exist in the world. The small bubble like (seemingly) imperfections were intended to convey fluidity.
Italian born Attilio Piccirilli (1868-1945) was a sculptor, model maker and stone carver. He immigrated to the United States where he and his brothers opened an atelier and workshop specializing in stone. Piccirilli Brothers was also responsible for the Maine Monument in Columbus Circle. They carved the pediment of the New York Stock Exchange, the Four Continents at the US Custom House, Patience and Fortitude at the New York Public Library, and the Washington Arch for other sculptors. Piccirilli's other work in Rockefeller Center, Joy of Life, can be found in One Rockefeller Plaza.
Rockefeller Center was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1985.
In 2007, Rockefeller Center was ranked #56 on the AIA 150 America's Favorite Architecture list.
Rockefeller Center National Register #87002591