Light of Life
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Antonio Alberti was born in San Bartolomeo in Galdo, Italy, just outside of Rome. He immigrated to America in 1912 and lived in Newark, New Jersey. Three years later, he returned to his homeland to enlist in the Italian Army. On May 13, 1915, stationed at Mont Cucco on the Italian-Austrian front, the enemy began bombarding his company of First Engineers. "Giovanni Grano and I were hiding underneath a huge rock," Alberti recalled. "Bombs were bursting around us. My friend and I were frightened. He did not want to stay there anymore, so he ran out. I chased after him and called, but before I could reach the clearing where he was standing, a hand grenade exploded and wounded Giovanni. I picked him up and his voice waned and told me he could not see. A few seconds later, he died in my arms. This is when I became inspired to appeal against such slaughter, but had no definite idea how to do it."
After the war, Alberti spent 15 years working on a 6-foot tall wood carving dedicated to his friend. Titled "The Light of Life," it is comprised of three sections: "The Christian Appeal," "The Flight of Heroes." and "The Cage of Joyful Spring." Upon completion, the wood sculpture was exhibited by Ripley's "Believe It Or Not" at the 1939 World's Fair, where some of the more delicate wood attachments were stolen. Alberti moved to Miami, Florida, in 1947.
Antonio Alberti's children have donated this treasured memorial sculpture to the permanent collection of the American Visionary Art Museum.