Passing of Aldo Casanova, Professor Emeritus

Posted: September 12, 2014

Dear Scripps College Community,

I am deeply saddened to share the news that Scripps College Professor Emeritus Aldo Casanova passed away September 10, 2014. He taught at Scripps for 33 years, from 1966 through 1999, and was a self-taught, world-renowned sculptor who enjoyed a long and decorated career in the arts.

A 2003 article in Scripps Magazine about a showing of his work at the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery (“Aldo Casanova: A Retrospective”) commended the artist’s prolific body of work, stating: “Casanova strove to be the Johnny Appleseed of sculpture, ‘leaving bronzes instead of trees,’… He succeeded: there are Casanova sculptures in numerous private and public collections, museums such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the National Academy of Design, New York, and everywhere in between.”

Among his many students who went on to pursue careers in the arts are some who became prominent sculptors in their own right, including, notably, Amy Ellingson ’86, Judith Davies ’69, and Elizabeth Turk ’83.

A native Californian, Aldo was born to Italian immigrant parents in San Francisco in 1929. He received his Bachelor and Master degrees at San Francisco State University and earned his Ph.D. from Ohio State University. In addition to his time at Scripps, he also taught at San Francisco State University, Antioch College, Temple University, State University of New York (Albany), and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Of Scripps he stated ‘We were encouraged to develop in our fields as an integral part of our commitment to the school. I went to the studio in much the same manner as a research scientist went to his lab. I felt anything and everything was possible, and this generated the excitement which continually drew me to my studio.”

While finishing his doctorate, Aldo applied for and won the prestigious Prix-de-Rome Prize, a fellowship that enabled him to work at the American Academy in Rome. In 1992, he was elected to the National Academy of Design, and in 1994, designated a fellow of the National Sculpture Society. He cited his most rewarding professional accomplishment to be that his work comprises a part of the collection on display in the Franklin Murphy Sculpture garden at UCLA. He said, “The collection contains works by Rodin, Maillol, Lipschitz, Moore, Arp, Miro, Matisse, and Lachaise, among others, and I believe I fit in. I can do no better than that.”

We are fortunate to have several works by Aldo on campus (in addition to several smaller works in the collection):

  • Ritual Object, 1965
  • Juncture, 1966
  • Sky Emblem, 1978
  • Earth Emblem, 1978
  • Prairie Emblem, 1979
  • Sea Emblem, 1979

Among the many public and institutional collections including his work are: The American Academy in Rome, Italy; California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA; Ford Motor Company, Detroit, MI; Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, CA; Stanford Research Institute, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; and Washington Mutual Savings Bank, Seattle, WA. His sculptures are in the permanent collections of the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC; National Academy of Design, New York, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Columbus Museum of Fine Arts, Columbus, OH; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.

Aldo was a beloved member of the Claremont community and credited the beauty of his surroundings with inspiring a great deal of his work. In an interview with the National Sculpture Society he said: “When I’m stuck, I’ll take a drive to Mount Baldy and let my mind clear. Nature always refreshes me.” He is survived by his longtime partner, Jill Fulton.

We will provide information on a memorial service when it is available.


Lori Bettison-Varga

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