Peter Chinni (1928-2019)
Peter Chinni (1928-2019) enjoyed a distinguished career that began in the 1950’s and spanned two continents. Born to Calabrian immigrant parents in Mount Kisco, New York, Chinni studied at the Art Students League in New York City where he caught the attention of the great Italian critic and art historian, Lionello Venturi. With Venturi’s endorsement, he attended the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome, studying painting and portraiture. In 1949, he left the Accademia to study privately with painter Felice Casorati in Turin and later with the cubist sculptor Roberto Melli in Rome.
After two years of military duties in Germany for the US Armed Forces, Chinni worked from his studio in Manhattan and had his first one-man show of paintings at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. Although he still painted and would occasionally even accept a portrait commission, it was in Rome that Chinni discovered his natural inclination toward sculpture, making his first piece in 1957. By 1959 he had his first one-man show of sculpture in New York City, with pieces purchased by the City of Saint Louis and the Denver Art Museum.
With additional one-man exhibitions at the Royal Marks Gallery (1964), the Albert Loeb Gallery (1966), and the Loeb-Krugier Gallery (1969), together with his participation in biennials at the Whitney Museum, the Corcoran Gallery, and the Carnegie International, Chinni’s reputation was firmly established. Shows in Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Italy maintained his presence in Europe. In 1969 he returned to Italy, eventually settling into a ruined hilltop village in Tuscany which he renovated in the hope of establishing an interdisciplinary school of the arts.
Chinni was honored by the Shah of Iran with a solo show on the Island of Kish in 1974. He continued his success with exhibitions at the Musee’ d’Ixelle in Brussels, the Beeckestijn Museum in Holland, and the Bouma Gallerie in Amsterdam.
When an error at his foundry in Italy caused the destruction of the molds for nearly twenty years’ worth of work, it might have seemed like the final straw. But, Chinni continued to develop his art and since his move to Taos, New Mexico in 2003, had been reworking some of these earlier pieces – not recreating them – but revising and expanding their initial impulses into new territory so that along with their maker, they too underwent a phoenix-like rebirth.
The Estate of Peter Chinni
Schools of Study
Art Students League, NYC
Accademia di Belle Arti, Rome, Italy
Partial List of Collections
Whitney Museum of American Art
Smithsonian American Art Museum
First Grand Prix de la Ville de Lille de Peinture 1937
Mural Commission for the Pavillion of the Press, Lille International Fair 1939
Pratt Graphique Scholarship
Wurlitzer Foundation Grant
San Marco Gallery, Rome, Italy 1955
R.R. Gallery, Denver, CO 1957
Royal Marks Gallery, NYC 1964
Albert Loeb Gallery, NYC 1966
Private exhibition for His & Her Imperial Majesty of Iran, Shah Reza Pahlavi & Farah Diba Pahlavi, Tehran, Iran 1974
Alexandra Monett Gallery, Bruxelles, Belgium 1976
Beeckestijn Museum, Velsen, Holland 1976
Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 2006
Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM 2018