(JTA) – Beverly Pepper, a sculptor famed for her monumental iron and steel works died Wednesday, Feb. 5 at her home in Italy. She was 97.
Born Beverly Stoll in Brooklyn in 1922, Pepper moved to Europe in the late 1940s, and in the early 1950s settled in Rome with her husband, journalist and author Curtis Bill Pepper. The couple moved to Italy’s Umbria region in the 1970s, where they restored an old castle near the medieval hill town of Todi.
Pepper’s sculptures include massive architectural works often set up in the open air, smaller pieces and land art that is sculpted directly in the landscape. In 2005, she created “Walls of Memory: For My Grandmother” in Vilnius, Lithuania, a land art piece honoring her father’s mother, who fled Vilnius for the United States.
“I came from a strange Jewish family,” she told the London Jewish Chronicle in 2014. “My mother’s parents were very religious. My father’s parents were against religion and were socialists.”
Pepper received many awards, and her works are displayed in museums, collections and public spaces around the world. In 1979 she created an installation of four immense steel columns set up in Todi’s main square; the Todi Columns were re-erected there last year for their 40th anniversary.
Pepper remained an active creative force until her death. Last year, Todi inaugurated a sculpture park that includes 16 pieces donated by Pepper.
Pepper’s husband died in 2014. She is survived by her children, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jorie Graham and photographer John Pepper, as well as grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Main Photo: American sculptor Beverly Pepper with her creation at the ‘Beverly Pepper At Ara Pacis’ show at Ara Pacis Museum in Rome, Dec. 3, 2014. (Credit” Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty Images)