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Mario Bernasconi was born in Pazzallo the 13 of February 1899 in the small house facing the Museum. He was a student  at the school of Luigi Vassalli and the one of Giuseppe Foglia. Both were located in Lugano. He learned to work with marble and clay. He designed reliefs, studied the human body and more than ever he became aware that this was his true calling. At age twenty two he received the first Federal scholarship which was renewed to him for three consecutive years with the following works:

Mask of the idiot 

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Portraits of Enea and Eva



click to enlarge Enea

click to enlarge Eva

 The young mother 



These works with others were created in Pazzallo during the first years and they are probably his best works. It seems that Mario created them in a cellar or humid barn that was in the house which is now the museum. Hardships, sufferings, sometimes hunger, saw these works of art being born, and with them many dreams and hopes for the future. Mario made trips of study giving preference to Siena and Florence and continued to develop his artistic capacity by associating with artists and intellectuals of that period. He worked in the German part of Switzerland, in Zurich, Bern and Glarus. In 1925 he created the statue of the "Country Priest". In 1927 by marring Irma Pannes new horizons were opened to him. She brought him to Germany. First  Berlin, then Breslau, Krefeld, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Wiesbaden, Freiburg, Darmstadt and last Munich, where he had the opportunity to exhibit at a State Art show. He traveled to Paris. He worked, stopped, started again, destroyed many works and rebuilt others. He left works in the best of families, had exhibitions and shows, many newspapers wrote about him. Many known critics wrote about the young sculptor. At the end he returned to his beloved Ticino (southern Switzerland), the land he loved dearly and from which he always had hard time parting and where especially for an artist it was hard to find a way and achieve. Mario Bernasconi was a genuine healthy artist, because he was a genuine and healthy son of the Ticino.

The Swiss Confederation acquired four works of art:

1925 - The country Priest. It was exhibited at the National exhibit at the Kunsthaus of Zurich. The state donated it to the city of Lugano. It can be seen now in bronze at the Museum Villa Ciani. In Pazzallo you can admire the original in full lenght.

1942 - Portrait of Francesco Chiesa, first at the Federal Archives in Bern. It is now in the Castagnola former City Hall  The plaster is at the Museum in Pazzallo.

1941 - Portrait of Cornelia, bronze at the Museum Villa Ciani, Lugano.

1932 - Bust of his wife. In stone at the Martin Disteli Museum in Olten.






Copyright 1996, Claudia Esposito Bernasconi