Arrigo Minerbi trained in Ferrara at the Scuola Civica d’Arte, then moved to Florence, where he attended the Scuola libera dell’Accademia di Belle Arti (Free School of the Academy of Fine Arts), studying Renaissance sculpture and Neoplatonic philosophy in depth. He moved to Genoa in 1905 and became completely involved in the cultural climate of the ‘Il Bivacco’ club.
He approached the Symbolist milieu and in particular Amos Nattini, a friend of Gabriele D’Annunzio. At the Genoa Exhibition of 1907, he presented the group Il cammino della vita (The Path of Life), which combined ancient knowledge with a profound allegorical sensitivity, which allowed him to be noticed by critics and collectors.
In 1915, shortly before moving from Genoa, he became associated with Gaetano Previati with whom he shared the Symbolist themes. It is no coincidence that in this period Minerbi drew particular inspiration from the language of Adolfo Wildt.
This is especially evident from the numerous works he presented in his solo exhibition at the Galleria Pesaro in 1919, at the end of the conflict, including My Mother, Spring Morning, Maternity, Virgulto, Asceticism, Laughing Boy and Autobiography. The closeness to Wildt is clear: the hollowed-out faces full of symbolic meanings, the hard lines and the suffering gazes emerge especially from the triptych dedicated to Cesare Battisti. He achieved great success at the Florentine Spring Exhibition of 1922 where he exhibited the harsh Victory, The Annunciation, The Portrait of V. Grubicy de Dragon and the beautiful sculpture Chrysalis.
The elaboration of his most important monumental work, Vittoria del Piave, dates back to 1915 and was completed in the 1920s, characterised by a supple Art Nouveau line, accompanied by a strong physical solidity.
A specimen of the statue was then placed in the 1930s at the entrance to D’Annunzio’s Vittoriale, for whom he created the funeral mask in 1939, after his death. For his public and funerary works, Minerbi used a classical and severe language that revived 15th century sculpture, without ever abandoning the reference to naturalism.
D’Annunzio, a close friend of Minerbi’s, commissioned him to execute the Funeral Monument of Luisa D’Annunzio, his mother. At the 1924 Venice Biennale he sent La Vittoria del Piave and a Portrait, while at the 1932 Biennale he sent Eleonora Duse, The Mother of the Fallen, The Last Supper, The Hand of the Saint, Maternity and Anna Maria. In 1938, with the enactment of the racial laws and being Jewish, he moved from Milan to Rome because he found hospitality at the Opera Don Orione.
After the war and in the 1950s, he devoted himself to various sacred commissions, producing The Mystery of the Assumption for Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, as well as the Bronze Door for Milan Cathedral, with episodes from Christianity at the time of Constantine. He then executed the Madonna di Monte Mario, in 1953. He died in Padua in 1960.