Notorious San Francisco: Benny Bufano

Beniamino Bufano presents bride Angela Alioto and husband Adolpho Veronese with a carving of the Madonna on their wedding at the De Young Museum in San Francisco on December 8, 1968, as the bride's parents, Mayor Joe Alioto and Angelina Genaro Alioto stand by. The colorful artist showed up at the wedding in the company of a "working girl," which infuriated the mother of the bride. The move was vintage Bufano. (Photo: Alioto Collection)
Sculpting giant Beniamino Benvenuto Bufano, who was only five feet tall, was born in 1898 in San-Fele, Italy. Bufano spent his childhood in New York, where he was privately educated before attending the Arts Student League as a pupil of James L. Fraser, Herbert Adams, and Paul Manship. Bufano came to San Francisco in 1915 before traveling for four years in Europe, India and China. After his tour, the free spirited Bufano returned to the City and remained a San Franciscan for the rest of his life. He was fired as an instructor at the San Francisco Institute of Art in 1923 for being a radical. Bufano severed his finger and sent it to President Wilson to protest World War I. Henry Miller wrote, "[Bufano] will outlive our civilization and probably be better known, better understood, both as a man and artist, five thousand years hence." Bufano died in San Francisco on August 16, 1970. His work is characterized by its use of smoothly rounded granite and steel and by its monumental iconography. St. Francis is a frequent subject of Bufano's art.

Madonna Sun Yat-Sen
Madonna II The Penguins I
St. Francis I The Penguins II
St. Francis II Polar Bear
St. Francis III Horseback
Bear and Cubs More Bufanos

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