Pericle Fazzini was born on May 4, 1913, in Grottammare, Italy. He made his first sculptures in the studio of his father, a wood-carver. In 1929, at the insistence of family friend and poet Mario Rivosecchi, Fazzini’s father sent him to Rome, where he took drawing classes at the Accademia di Belle Arti. In 1931 he won a competition for his design for the tomb for Cardinal Dusmet in Catania, Italy, and a year later he won the Pensionato Artistico Nazionale, which provided him with the funds necessary to rent a studio in Rome for the next three years.
From 1937 to 1952 he served as an instructor at the Museo Artistico Industriale in Rome. During this period he explored different materials in his sculpture, including clay and bronze, won the Premio dell’Accademia d’Italia (in 1942), and had his first solo exhibition (at the Galleria La Margherita, Rome, in 1943) and retrospective (at the Palazzo Barberini, Rome, in 1951). He continued to teach through most of the 1950s, first at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence and then at the Accademia di Brera in Milan. Fazzini’s earliest works were mostly relief sculptures carved in wood: Baroque-inspired compositions with an emphasis on movement and plasticity. Over the next decade his style would take on a more sober affect, though he would never relinquish his preoccupation with plasticity and the idea of the “unfinished” as a means of heightening a work’s expressive quality.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s he began to focus more attention on portraiture subtly infused with a sense of humanity; Fazzini’s portrait of Giuseppe Ungaretti from 1936 inspired the poet to call him “a sculptor of the wind.” The artist returned to a more Baroque sensibility in the period between 1946 and 1955 with works in which he combined figures from real life and fantasy with a sense of dynamic visual rhythm. Fazzini is best known for his later, more monumental works, including Monument to the Resistance (Monumento alla Resistenza, 1956) in Ancona and Resurrection (La resurrezione, 1972–77), commissioned by the Vatican. Fazzini died in Rome on December 4, 1987.