Freedom and Rebellion Bronzes

London Newspaper Group — CN/WPN 28-08-1981

In a spirit of 'Freedom' & 'Rebellion'...

By Christopher Long

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Two bronze figures by Chelsea sculptor Enzo Plazzotta have emerged recently from his Cathcart Road studio and have particular significance bearing in mind his Italian wartime experiences.

The figures, Spirit of Freedom and Spirit of Rebellion, were both commissioned by the Special Forces Club and are now much sought after in an unlimited edition at prices under £100 each – making them excellent value as far as Plazzotta prices go.

Interestingly, the 'spirit' in both these figures was something that the anglophile Enzo Plazzotta learnt hard and well during hazardous and daring wartime resistance work in Italy when he was still quite young.

Enzo Plazzotta was born in Mestre, near Venice, in 1921 and spent his student days in Milan studying sculptural drawing and modelling under Giocomo Manzu at the Academia di Brera, and architecture at the Politecnicao. He decided to specialise in sculpture, but his studies were interrupted by World War ll.

Plazzotta became a member of the Italian Resistance Movement and fought in the Ossola region as a partisan. He was captured as a result of a secret political meeting held in Milan and spent nearly a year in solitary confinement. While being transferred to a German prisoner of war camp, however, he managed to escape and rejoin the partisans.

Plazzotta was engaged in guerrilla activities and in conjunction with the British Special Forces was on the organising end of a clandestine escape route for Jews and escaped Allied prisoners of war en route from Italy to Switzerland. Through these contacts with British Intelligence he was involved in the repatriation of Ferrucio Parri, the leader of the Italian Resistance, from Switzerland to Italy. Parri later became Italy's first prime minister after the war ended. Plazzotta's wartime record won him the Silver Medal for Military Valour.

After this interlude, Plazzotta resumed his studies in Milan, and in 1947 received his first commission, appropriately enough from the Italian Committee of Liberation. This was to be their tribute to their successful wartime collaboration with the British Special Forces. The bronze sculpture was entitled Spirit of Rebellion and depicted the boy David with the head of Goliath. Plazzotta himself was chosen to make the presentation to the Special Forces Club headquarters in London, and the bronze still has a place of honour there today.

This first visit to London played a major part in shaping Plazzotta's career, for he quickly decided to make London his permanent place of residence. From his first studio in London he received several portrait commissions and, in 1949, held his first exhibition at the former Brook Street Gallery, to be followed by many others.

One of his first public commissions was a monument to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Lewes, and after this time he began to explore the themes for which he has become well known, specialising in studies of dance, the horse and the female form – all of which exude vitality and movement.

His style, based on the classical lines of the Renaissance, reflects perfectly his own admiration for such great masters as Michelangelo and Rodin. He now lives in Chelsea and works from the studio formerly owned by the late Sir Charles Wheeler.

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Enzo Plazzotta died on 12 October 1981, very soon after this article appeared. He was admitted to the Westminster Hospital soon after the August Bank holiday. This is only one of many articles I wrote about a man whose company I enjoyed immensely.

I have a copy of 'Spirit of Rebellion' – a gift from Plazotta's family following his death. This was an appropriate choice. Enzo and I often discussed the nature of 'freedom', 'rebellion' and 'courage' – not least because we had many mutual friends at the Special Forces Club in London whose World War ll exploits we knew well. In addition, we had a shared knowledge for personal or family reasons of the ultimate price that some people have paid in the name of freedom and rebellion. Furthermore, we were agreed that a spirit of rebellion was something both artists and journalists needed to foster in themselves and their work!

© (1981) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
The text and graphical content of this and linked documents are the copyright of their author and or creator and site designer, Christopher Long, unless otherwise stated. No publication, reproduction or exploitation of this material may be made in any form prior to clear written agreement of terms with the author or his agents.

Christopher Long

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