Header image  
line decor
line decor


Livio Orazio Valentini
An Artist's Spiritual Odyssey

Robert E. Alexander and John A. Elliott
with Erika Pauli Bizzarri

An illustrated biography celebrating the life and legacy of a renowned Italian artist

In this illustrated biography of the late Italian artist, Livio Orazio Valentini, Robert E. Alexander and John A. Elliott celebrate the life and legacy of the renowned painter and sculptor while acknowledging his special relationship with the people of Aiken, South Carolina.

Born to a poor family in 1920, Valentini lived most of his life in Orvieto, Italy. With no money for a formal education, he became a self-taught artist. At the age of twenty, Valentini was called into military service during World War II. After being captured by the Germans, he was confined in Buchenwald and other concentration camps, where he endured two years of physical labor. For Valentini the confinement was life-changing; he experienced a spiritual awakening that became a lifelong odyssey reflected in his art and teaching.

Valentini’s art and even his existence centered on his efforts to find freedom. His paintings, charcoal sketches, and sculptures formed from terracotta, forged iron, tile, or stone are often a statement on the human condition, germination and rebirth, and the negativity and violence of humanity. Valentini often spoke about injustice and oppression through the metaphor of a caged bird, explaining how compassion could overcome cruelty and art could bring healing and hope to conquer fear.

While Valentini’s art was well known in Italy and other European countries, it was relatively unknown in the United States until the 1990s, when Aiken, South Carolina, and Orvieto, Italy, became linked after a chance meeting between Valentini and a fellow Rotary Club member from Aiken vacationing in Orvieto. The connection blossomed into a multifaceted exchange program for students and citizens that has celebrated culture and art, including Valentini’s.

Robert E. Alexander earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s of divinity from Duke University, and a doctorate in higher education from the University of South Carolina. He also attended the Management Program at Harvard Business School. Alexander retired from the University of South Carolina Aiken after seventeen years as chancellor and more than thirty-four years as a professor and administrator.

John A. Elliott earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Latin from Indiana State University and a doctorate in humanities from Florida State University. His research has been published in the journal Studi Etruschi. Elliott is a professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina Aiken, having retired after teaching art history for twenty-six years.

Erika Pauli Bizzarri, who offered editorial assistance on this volume, has worked as a research and translation assistant on countless volumes including McGraw Hill’s English edition of Encyclopedia of World Art. She taught art history at Gonzaga University in Florence, Italy.




10 x 10
280 pages
125 color and 37 b&w illus.
ISBN 978-1-61117-898-2
Hardcover, $39.99s
ISBN 978-1-61117-899-9
Ebook, $39.99t

    Copyright ©2017 The University of South Carolina Press