As a young artist, Italian sculptor Francesco Messina was an excellent draftsman, and found an early affinity for the human form. He studied in Genoa and then moved to Milano. He soon began to sculpt in clay (terra cotta) and other media. In the 1930s, his sculptures were exhibited throughout Europe in group shows of Italian artists. In 1932, he moved to Milano, and was soon appointed a tenured professor at the Brera Art Academy. One of his best known works is the Dying Horse at the entrance to the Italian public broadcaster RAI in Rome. His daughter Paola also became a sculptor.
Messina’s association with the Fascist Party (he was a long-time member) during World War II may have been a simple question of opportunism, since it facilitated his receiving public appointments and public commissions. His association was sufficient to bring about a brief post-war suspension as director of the Brera Academy. His art was rarely political, but after World War II occasionally dealt with themes like war and violence. Messina was little known outside Italy, though his commissioned works can still be seen in a number of countries, and he sometimes exhibited internationally.