The hand-crafted woodwork of Livio De Marchi is a remarkable tribute to malleability of material, the flexibility of design and the artistry of balancing between tradition and technology, convention and innovation.
Working mainly with wood chisels and other hand tools he has carved everything from delicately folded wooden clothing to floating wooden horse-drawn chariots that have floated down the canals of Venice.
While his water-worthy vehicle reproductions are impressively detailed and functional, his interior, furniture and furnishing designs are even more compelling in some ways – objects and textiles normally soft and pliable are rendered solid and surreal.
The clothing and everyday objects he sculpts from wooden have a frozen-in-time quality coupled with lifelike wrinkles and curves down to the finest detail, making use of the natural variegation of wood to play tricks on the viewer.
This sculptor even brings unusual life to objects ordinarily carved out of wood, adding playful wooden books beneath the corner of a bed for example to prop it up and adding whimsical details at every opportunity.
“Livio De Marchi came to our attention when another craftsman suggested we take a look at his work. While it is normally our practice to display the work of craftsmen who might not otherwise come to the attention of the public, and Mr. De Marchi’s work has become known world-wide, we felt the quality of his carving skills merited our placing it with that of our other expert craftsmen who might not be so well known. In addition, Mr. De Marchi’s work displays a certain sense of whimsical contrast between subject and material that jars the senses. The soft folds of cloth on a table, women’s underclothes hanging on a clothesline or the sensuous curves and mechanical detail of a full size Ferrari F50 are not the usual subjects of a wood carver. When something in America is described as ‘wooden’ it often has the meaning of being stiff, stilted and ungainly. His work, though carved from wood, is anything but ‘wooden’ in that sense. In addition, the common woods he uses, knots and all, make it clear that he is not trying to disguise the nature of the medium. “
“His work has been honored many times as art, but we would like to honor him here for the expert craftsmanship in wood, as that must first be mastered before the art can be created. We hope you enjoy this slight departure from our usual displays in this museum.”