Monument to Roberto Franceschi

Author: Collective of forty artists
Title: Monument to Roberto Franceschi
Date: 1977
Location: via Fernando Bocconi 22, Milano

Above: Collective of forty artists, Monument to Roberto Franceschi, 1977, via Fernando Bocconi 22, Milan, photo by Andrea Scuratti – Comune di Milano.

Not exactly a monument, but a sort of big-size readymade intended as a memorial: this is the seven-meter high steel mallet, taken from a warehouse of discarded industrial materials and located on the site where Roberto Franceschi, a student, had fallen, killed by the police in 1973 during a demonstration near Bocconi University.

Following the killing of Roberto Franceschi, the family had placed a plaque, several times vandalized, near Bocconi University. A year after the tragic event, his companions turned to the sculptor Alik Cavaliere, who had a studio nearby, to undertake the creation of a commemorative work. An intense debate arose, which led to a competition of ideas, none of which, however, was considered suitable: a clear sign of the difficulty of erecting a monument in a contemporary context. A new commission, headed among others by designer and artist Enzo Mari, led to the idea of ​​removing a large disused industrial tool and placing it on site, as a symbol of the link between the students movement and the workers political protest.

This metal mallet was found, moved and posed, without the formal authorization of the Municipality, on the site of the killing occurred four years earlier, on April 16, 1977, as a memorial for Franceschi and for “all the fallen for the cause of popular struggles from 1945 to today”: the massive presence of students who came for the inauguration was reinforced by a large workers demonstration. On 23 January 2013, the then Mayor Giuseppe Pisapia publicly and formally recognized this artifact as a public monument, in the presence of Enzo Mari, the rector of Bocconi, Andrea Sironi, and the Honorary President of the Roberto Franceschi Foundation, Lydia Franceschi.