'Il Risveglio' ('The Awakening') - Atlas Obscura

'Il Risveglio' ('The Awakening')

This fiberglass version of the Awakening sculpture by Seward Johnson, now resides in its third location in Italy, in Viterbo. 


A silver, screaming giant is emerging from the ground at Viterbo’s Parco Valle Faul. His outstretched right arm towers above the ground, and his bent left leg and knee rise above the earth, while his left hand and right foot just break the surface. Where his bearded face breaks through the ground, you can see his mouth opening wide, as if to unleash a primal scream.

this is Il Risveglio (The Awakening), a fiberglass version of a sculpture created by John Seward Johnson II in 1980. The original version of The Awakening is crafted from aluminum and located in Oxon Hill, Maryland (its second home, after it was originally placed in nearby Washington, D.C.) Another aluminum version, The Awakening II, is located in Chesterfield, Missouri, where it was installed in 2009. This fiberglass version is the third iteration of this sculpture, which depicts a giant emerging from underground. It was installed temporarily in Syracuse, Sicily, in April 2009, moved to Rome in December of that year, and finally to Viterbo in 2011.

The sculpture depicts a giant figure awakening from the earth. It’s not the only fiberglass copy of one of Johnson’s metal statues to find its way to Italy—a replica of Unconditional Surrender has been in Civitavecchia since 2013. You can find The Awakening in Parco Valle Faul, which is overlooked by the Papal Palace of Viterbo, providing a magnificent backdrop to this fantastic installation.

Seward Johnson continues to be a controversial artist, being accused of producing derivative works and even of copyright infringement, but his work remains popular. It is certainly a popular object in Viterbo where the public has complete access to it, leading to occasional instances of graffiti.

Know Before You Go

If traveling by car there is a convenient parking lot next to the park at Piazza Martriri d'Ungheria (take a ticket on entry and pay just before you leave).

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February 16, 2024

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