The Legacy for Todi.
Pepper became famous for her monumental corton steel sculptures of which her Todi Columns are a prime example. Initially located in the Piazza del Poppolo they are now located in the Beverly Pepper Park located in the south- western corner of the historic centre behind the Church of San Fortunato. It contains twenty sculptures from her private collection that have been donated to the city of Todi by the artist. Her legacy is also permanently on show in the Beverly Pepper Foundation Gallery (in della Infriore, just off the Piazza del Poppolo).
Beverly Pepper and her husband Bill Pepper made their life in Todi from the 1960s. Her legacy has made it possible for Todi to become a recognised art mecca for contemporary art loving tourists.
Life of Beverly Pepper
Pepper’s parents were Jewish immigrants, Beatrice (Hornstein) and Irwin Stoll. She grew up with a father who was a furrier, and sold carpet and linoleum, and a mother who volunteered for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). "It was an interesting household", she said in an interview. "You see, I wasn’t brought up thinking I had to be a 'feminine’ woman.' (Her mother and grandmother had strong personalities, which convinced her she could make her own life far from Brooklyn). "There was nothing I ever thought would limit me because my mother and grandmother were very strong women. I didn’t know that’s not how women acted!"
Pepper first started her career as a painter but she became interested in sculpture after taking a trip to Angkor Watt, Cambodia in 1960. Full of awe by the temple ruins surviving beneath the jungle growth, she was inspired to create pieces from carved tree trunks which were displayed at a gallery in Rome. American Art Critic, Rosalind Krauss, has described her work as violating modernist traditions: "the traditional craft of carving was closed to her...she attacked these logs with electric drills and saws."
In 1962 Pepper was selected with American sculptors Alexander Calder and David Smith to undertake a residency and fabricate works in steel fabrication factories in Italy for an outdoor exhibition, Sculture nella città, to be held in Spoleto (45 km from Todi). After undertaking a short apprenticeship she worked with steel fabricators she created major sculptures, including The Gift of Icarus, Leda, Spring Landscape, two other large works, and 17 smaller ones.
In the 1960s, Miriam Pepper experimented with using polished stainless steel in her art. She began by carving used one-inch thick elements of stainless steel with a torch, then moving on to highly polished stainless with painted interiors. Her pieces were illusionary works that disappeared and reappeared, mirroring the surrounding landscape. In an interview with the American art historian, Barbara Rose, Pepper said "Another effect I'm trying to obtain with this bright finish is not simply illusion, but the inclusion of the person looking at it, so that there's a constant exchange going on between the viewer and the work... My aim here is to invest space with a solidity by filling it with the world around it."