(JTA) – Beverly Pepper, a sculptor famed for her monumental iron and steel works, has died.
Pepper died Wednesday at her home in Italy. She was 97.
Pepper was born Beverly Stoll in Brooklyn in 1922. She 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 central Italy’s Umbria region in the 1970s, where they restored an old castle near the medieval hill town of Todi and became an anchor of a community of artists and writers.
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 a land art piece called “Walls of Memory: For My Grandmother” in Vilnius, Lithuania, to honor 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. In her later years, she no longer could weld steel herself, but worked with several assistants. 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, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jorie Graham and photographer John Pepper, as well as grandchildren and a great-grandchild.