NYC - Rockfeller Center: Palazzo d'Italia - Italia
Giacomo Manzu's bronze bas-relief, Italia, was presented to Rockefeller Center by a group of Italian businessmen in 1965 for the entrance of Palazzo d'Italia, 626 Fifth Avenue. During World War II, another relief with a fascist theme was was removed from the building, and it took over 20 years to find a suitable replacement that represent postwar Italy and Italian-Americans.
Manzu created simple piece, measuring 15'7" high by 10'5" wide, bearing the word ITALIA in high bold letters at the top and an ornate grouping of entwined grapevine, leaves and stalks of wheat. The empty, level surface around the central agriculatural motif impels the viewer to shift focus back and forth between that and the wording, creating a visual and emotional unification of theme and element. The patina is a rich golden brown.
Italia is one of the few pieces of artwork in Rockefeller Center that is not in Art Deco style, but it is subtle and restrained and doesn't contrast the surrounding architecture.
Manzu also created a smaller companion relief titled The Immigrant, which sat directly below Italia until it was moved near the 50th Street entrance in 20021. Manzu is renowned for his bronze doors at St. Peter's Cathedral (Basilica di San Pietro) in the Vatican.
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