Volterra, Italy’s “alab’Arte” Review – Sculpture in Alabaster

Chicagoans have “the bean” (a.k.a. Cloud Gate), the monumental Millennium Park stainless steel public art piece conceived and constructed by Anish Kapoor.  



But when famed sculptor Kapoor wants to have the effect of alabaster--a stone made from salt deposited in the seas near Volterra, Italy 7 million years ago--he turns to the skillsets of alab’Arte’s two artists dedicated to preserving this ancient art, Roberto Chiti and Giorgio Finazzo



If you visit Volterra you can not only purchase Alabaster works from these two artists, but better yet, come to their workshop for free demonstrations of how alabaster art is done.



So non-toxic that it is also used in cosmetics, alabaster is a soft stone that is easy to work with, according to Roberto Chiti.  He and his partner make sculpture in two ways—with a model and without a model.  Periodically they visit the nearby alabaster mine to get new material, round hunks of alabaster that are mined from 100 meters or so below ground.



Glancing about the workshop you realize that you have seen alabaster art before, even if you couldn’t name it.   In fact 80% of alab’Arte’s sales – many by catalog—are sent to America. 


There are currently about ten alabaster artists in Volterra (eight men and two women).  Alas, it may be a dying art because younger artists have so far not signed up in droves to learn the craft.   If you want to learn this art you will find Chiti, who taught alabaster art at a nearby university for five years, an eager teacher.



Or just come to watch the magic, perhaps while Roberto plays classical music in the background.  During the course of a relatively short conversation Chiti seemed to just whip out a perfectly proportioned alabaster bowl as easily as if he were simply humming. 


To learn more or make a catalog purchase visit the alab’Arte website (www.alabarte.com). 




Workshop: Via Orti di Sant'Agostino, 28 - I-56048 Volterra

Shop: Via Don Minzoni, 18 - I-56048 Volterra


Roberto (+39) 340 7187189

Giorgio (+39) 340 9816908





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