After the Second World War

Everything that happened after 1945 was, so to speak, on the opposite bank of a river called War, which had wiped out with unprecedented violence all the world as we had known it.

In Italy, a few solitary voices rose, in a country divided and isolated from the rest of Europe, which told of tradition consolidated into the present: the Etruscan-Italic echoes in the figures of Marino Marini (Pistoia 1901 - Viareggio 1980) or the Roman-Gothic references in the works of Giacomo Manzù (Bergamo 1908 - Rome 1991). Giacomo Manzù, Enrico Manfrini, Remo Brioschi, Eros Pellini, Marino Marini and also Lucio Fontana, Luciano Minguzzi, Carmelo Capello, Arnaldo and Giò Pomodoro, Ettore Cedraschi and many others formed a group which gravitated towards the Foundry and pursued the new Battaglia challenges, driving to improve technical and artistic methods in the different sections of the Foundry (die casting, shell casting and sand casting) and getting the most out of the lost wax casting technique.

The perfect geometry of the sphere in the sculptures of Arnaldo Pomodoro (Marciano di Romagna 1926) was in contrast with the sense of insecurity of the new age; inside, once that perfect surface is broken, the hard path that led to it becomes visible. These were the years when “the centrality of the plastic-sculptural form opened up to the surrounding environment” when Lucio Fontana (Rosario di Santa Fe, Argentina, 1899 - Comabbio, Varese, 1968) reinvented the third dimension, allowing the canvas and the sculpture itself to be penetrated by the environment. The first work to be cast on the new Via Stilicone premises followed a line of continuity; the majestic bronze doors of the Milan Cathedral (1945), which had been designed by Castiglioni and started by the Cappellini company on behalf of the Veneranda Fabbrica Duomo before the outbreak of the conflict, could finally be completed. The postwar years in Milan were vibrant, the Academy of Arts had been a centre of great interest for more than a decade, bringing together many “great artistic names" of the time: Alik Cavaliere, Floriano Bodini, Giancarlo Marchesi, Giacomo Benevelli, Liliana Nocera and Kengiro Azuma, all casting their works at the Battaglia between 1954 and 1955. Following the deaths of Monteverde and one the partners, Frizzi, before the war, a vigorous impetus to the Foundry was given by the business acumen of Ercole Staffico, who reinforced his role at the Foundry. In the first two years in the new premises, the Battaglia tackled a number of castings in different areas, i.e. sculptural, architectural, mechanical and functional. "We continue and will continue with ever-renewed zeal in the fine arts" by land and sea; this is where, close to a wall of gorgonians in the depths off the coast of San Fruttuoso, stands The Christ of the Deep by Guido Galletti, dedicated to the victims of the seas and now a symbol of every sailor. In 1958 Narciso Cassino from Candia Lomellina (1914-2003) completed the casting of the Madonna della Guardia. The statue of the Virgin, 14 metres high and one of the largest bronze castings in existence, was placed, thanks to a complex team effort, at the top of the eponymous sanctuary tower, designed by Galli, on August 27, 1959. During the war and until 1969 the industrial foundry section was further developed (die casting, shell casting and sand casting), which also produced the chain guards for the legendary Vespa scooters. Giovanni Frigerio, technical director from 1957 to1971, specialized in the design of steel structures and for many years would be the engineer in charge of the sculptures by Arnaldo Pomodoro. The Foundry, which was also a publisher for its artwork, employed more than forty workers at the time. In 1958 the Door to the Siena Cathedral by Enrico Manfrini, made of bronze with a brass core, was cast. The frame was built with slabs three feet long, precision-bent and secured by special screws which were embossed and rolled. Stainless steel was not yet available then, and the structure, as well as the hinges, was made of brass, a material that has similar mechanical properties.