EDUARDO Villa, who has died in Johannesburg at the age of 95, came to South Africa as a prisoner of war and stayed to become the country’s most prolific and famous sculptor.
He completed over 1 000 works, mostly in metal and bronze, and mostly on commission. Around 70 of his sculptures adorn public open spaces in Gauteng.
His first commission was for the faculty of dentistry at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1950, and it still occupies its original position at the faculty entrance.
Another early work was a 6.6m warrior figure commissioned by the state iron and steel corporation, Iscor, and erected at Voortrekkerhoogte in 1961 to commemorate South Africa becoming a republic.
Other famous works include The Knot, outside the Cape Town Civic Centre, and The Confrontation, in front of the Rand Merchant Bank head office in Sandton.
He won numerous awards and represented South Africa five times at the Venice biennale, four times at the Sao Paulo biennale in Brazil and once at the biennale in Chile.
Villa was born on May 31 1915 in Bergamo, Italy. He spent a lot of time as a child watching his uncle, a stonemason, at work.
Later, he studied sculpture at the Andrea Fantoni School of Art in Bergamo.
Conscripted into the Italian army at the outbreak of World
CHEERFUL: Eduardo Villa was amused by attempts to categorise his art