The first time I came to Italy, in Naples, I was struck by the cribs of 1700. They opened new horizons to me. I was used to the one of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, small and simple at the base of an imposing Christmas Tree.
The cribs of Naples were a real discovery to me!” Together with the crib Yvonne DiPalma – born in Philadelphia – met also the sculptor Michele Attanasio. She fell in love with him, got married and with him opened the “Paul Whistler Art Gallery”, near Sorrento.
For Christmas, in a place where everybody prepares a crib, they started to make one in the Gallery: scenarios by Michele and characters by Yvonne.
This is how it has begun, by chance, the most charming and passionate adventure of the life of this artist. In the first “Installation” there are 20 characters: sculptures representing the people of the town and famous figures.
This was the start of a thirty-year experience. Every year after that debut in 1976-77 it has had more and more success; it was an opening up of a new life.
The crib emigrated to Florence where it found in Monsignor Setti a supporter and in the Basilica of San Lorenzo a home. In the town of iris the two artists found the same enthusiasm of the first time: that miracle of a sincere participation.
After San Lorenzo, it went to Loggia Rucellai (1981), then to Rome, in the Oratory of Santa Maria in Via, then back to Florence, in the church next to the Gallery of San Jacopo Sopr’Arno (1991). In 1992 the crib by Yvonne was the set in the Theatre Parioli of the programme Maurizio Costanzo Show.
Since then, the work increased “at home” until the interlude of Christmas 1999, when it was lent to the 7th International Festival “Costruimo il Natale”, in the crypt of Santa Croce of Florence.
And now let’s know better this very special crib made of characters of about 50-centimetre height. Yvonne creates the body with iron wire, fabric and stuffing.
To be noticed that all clothes are sews one by one and represent the Neapolitan models of the 18th century. The heads and hair are in terracotta; each sculpted head is a masterpiece of refinement. All characters have the features either of people the artist has met in her life or of famous figures, among them many international politicians: the presidents of United States Nixon, Reagan, Carter, then the Russian, Italian, French, Chinese ones etc. Thirty years of history of 1900 in a crib…
Beside the human characters, there is the world of international animals: in addition to the traditional ox and donkey, there are also horses, sheep, cats, elephants, cocks, baboons, rams, kangaroos, etc… all in terracotta reproduced in the minutest details.
How many are the Crib characters now? Yvonne has stopped counting when they have been more than 200!
They have got out of control and have become alive! Indefatigable, Yvonne creates different groups and expressions, always reflecting upon life and world around us.