The sculptor and ceramicist Leoncillo Leonardi (Spoleto, 1915 - Rome, 1968) is considered one of the most important European sculptors of the post-war period.
    He had the great merit of revitalizing such an ancient Italian artisanal tradition as that of ceramics.
    He won the gold medal for applied art at the7th Milan Triennial in 1940 with his first ceramics fired in Umbrian kilns. He soon began to take part in the Roman art scene where he became friends with Ettore Colla, Toti Scialoja, Giulio Turcato, and Emilio Vedova. In 1946 he was among those who signed the Nuova Secessione Artistica Italiana manifesto and later took part in the first show of the Fronte nuovo delle arti movement which, immediately after the war, was internationally considered to be the real representative Italian avant-garde. In 1954 at the Venice Biennale, to which he was to be invited on various other occasions, he was asked to exhibit in a single room together with Lucio Fontana and here he revealed his close relationship to the abstract art Fontana was developing during that period.
    In 1956 he began a severe revision of his work: he abandoned Cubism for abstraction and developed a modern version of Informale sculpture. His sculptures were characterized by flows of ceramics in primary colors (black, white, burnt/red sienna) and gave rise to figures that were often shot across by deep furrows. His works alluded to a nature populated by trees gashed by lightening as well as by martyred, crucified, and mutilated human bodies. The results of this phase were gathered together in 1957 in the artist's solo show at Plinio De Martiis's Galleria La Tartaruga, the meeting point in Rome of such international artists as Marcel Duchamp and Alexander Calder.
    This was also the year when he was given such public commissions as that for a decorative panel for the national insurance institute in Ferrara and for a fountain for the INA-Casa building complex in Rome. For the open-air exhibition Sculture nella città, part of the 5th Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi in 1962, Leoncillo created an installation in white clay, Le affinità patetiche, which is still to be seen in the Carandente museum in Spoleto, together with a wide-ranging collection of works covering his whole career (drawings, sculptures, majolica ceramics). Leoncillo died prematurely at only 53, struck down by a heart attack while driving his car. A year after his death Spoleto devoted a large-scale anthological exhibition to his work.