Cosmo’s Cosmos

A portrait of sculptor Cosmo Campoli in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

0:03Copy video clip URL A brief two-second fragment of unrelated footage of what appears to be a close up of a large bump on a stucco wall or some kind of sculpture.

0:14Copy video clip URL Color bars and tone.

0:42Copy video clip URL Cosmo Campoli talks about his artwork while sitting in Nichols Park in the Hyde Park neighborhood, where his public sculpture “Bird of Peace” is located.

1:31Copy video clip URL Campoli talks about his history with art, which started when he was 12. His father dug a well, which involved removing clay. Campoli played with the clay, and created a portrait of his sister, but he put it outside and the rain washed the sculpture away. Thus, he started working with stone instead, which is more durable for outside public art. Includes some photos from Campoli’s youth.

2:50Copy video clip URL A montage of the 57th Street Art Fair in Hyde Park.

4:13Copy video clip URL A woman named Fumi shows a ring featuring an Australian opal, and talks about how she sets the stone and how she designs the ring itself. Campoli introduces himself to the woman, and she laughs, “Cosmo, I know you! Oh, for heaven’s sakes, I’ve known him for I don’t know how many years!”

5:37Copy video clip URL Campoli talks to a woman named Anne Kingsbury about her work, specifically about how it has a relaxed feeling to it. Afterwards, while walking the fair with the videomaker, Campoli remarks that while Kingsbury’s work “is not terribly original… it has something freaky about it that’s interesting.”

7:22Copy video clip URL Campoli introduces the videomaker to Ann Kleboe, who he taught at the Art Institute. They talk about her stone sculptures, and he comments on a few of his favorite pieces.

8:24Copy video clip URL A girls choir sings a piece in the middle of the fair. Campoli talks about how he’s never actually exhibited at the art fair, saying, “My things were two large to drag around.” He says that most artists let people view their work for free, but street fair artists can still make good money although there are “perils,” most notably rain, “as if God wants to destroy all these false images the artists have made.” He also says his favorite part of art fairs is to see the people.

10:56Copy video clip URL Campoli says he falls in love with his work so he doesn’t want to sell it. He also talks a little about his process. “I get hundreds of ideas and it’s difficult and hard to decide which ones to make.” He shows the camera some of his sculptures and talks about his myriad influences. “I was influenced by everything, and I didn’t think I was being influenced by anything,” he laughs, and talks about his love of primitive art. “I wanted to make sculpture that would say everything in one sentence instead of a chapter or a paragraph.”

13:49Copy video clip URL “What I do now is… actually I’m doing nothing for the benefit of anyone else. I’m just watching ants and grains of sand and bird footprints. It’s as though I did my work and now… now it’s my time to enjoy whatever it is.”

14:24Copy video clip URL End credits.

14:50Copy video clip URL End of tape.



  1. John says:

    Thank you for posting this video. Cosmo was our neighbor back in the early ’80’s

  2. Stephanie Arena says:

    I and my husband Robert Drea were good friends with Cosmo and visited him often in the 1980’s and 1990’s. He would talk about his past and his art and philosophy of life. We would pick him up to come to our place occasionally. One year we gave him a birthday party at our loft. He was a gentle loving person and an original artist of high repute and talent. It’s very wonderful that you’re giving him a centennial tribute. We learned many insights from Cosmo and a different way of looking at and interpreting reality, art, and life.
    Stephanie Arena

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