Arnaldo Pomodoro (Italian, born Romagna, Italy 1926),
Cono Tronco, 1973
Bronze and stainless steel
Location: Government Plaza
Collection of the City of Binghamton
The title Cono Tronco translates from Italian into “truncated cone,” referring directly to the work’s physical form. Here, a bronze cone is ruptured violently by an enormous triangular stainless steel blade; evidence of the cone’s elaborate “insides” appear to have been made visible in the process of the rupture. Pomodoro’s work often grapples with the dichotomy of interior versus exterior, and Cono Tronco is no exception. The steel triangle that protrudes from the broken cone can be understood as the interior “soul,” as the artist calls it, while a sharp formal tension emerges through the opposition of the large, smooth exterior geometric shapes and the work’s obscured chaotic interior.
Cono Tronco weighs a staggering nine thousand pounds and stands sixteen feet tall. Like most of Pomodoro’s work, it was created through the lost-wax process, an ancient technique that can produce brilliantly modern results. Pomodoro makes his lost-wax works following an elaborate multistep process. After initial designs are created on paper, he then creates full-scale clay models in his studio. These large clay forms are then used to make hollow plaster molds, which are meticulously retouched and enhanced after the clay is removed. Next, the plaster molds are taken to an offsite to make the bronze casts. Multiple layers of wax are carefully painted onto gelatin molds made from the plaster; the wax is then encased in a mixture of plaster and silica, and subsequently baked to liquefy the wax, which melts away, leaving a void. The liquid hot bronze is then poured into the mold, replacing the “lost” wax. The encasing layer is removed after the bronze cools, and the bronze is polished and cleaned to Pomodoro’s specifications. The artist is an active participant throughout this process, engaging in every stage of creation and meticulously retouching and adjusting at every possible point.
When Cono Tronco was originally installed at Governmental Plaza in 1973, it was not in the middle of a parking lot. Pomodoro encourages people to interact with his sculptures—to climb on and rest against them, or to peer deep into their mysterious interiors. Unfortunately, in its current site, this interactive dimension is largely lost for viewers.
Upon its initial installation in 1973, the work prompted considerable confusion and misunderstanding but also excitement. While the mayor of Binghamton at the time, Alfred J. Libous, told the local Sun Bulletin newspaper, “If you want to know the truth, it doesn’t move me,” others reacted more positively; for example, a local IBM engineer remarked, “I think it is beautiful. I see the past, present, and future.” For his part, Pomodoro took the long view, saying: “Slowly…Very slowly…Binghamton will understand.”
Researched by: Dana Jacunski