IL MAGO (The Magician) was commissioned by Paula DeCosse as a surprise gift to commemorate her husband Cy’s 90th birthday. Cy DeCosse is a celebrated artist in Minneapolis. He is a renaissance man, accomplished in painting and sculpture, an acclaimed photographer, and had successful careers in advertising and publishing. When Paula first contacted me she shared a photo of one of Cy’s paintings, a self-portrait as a multi-armed Gumby-like figure performing magic tricks. Right away I thought, “Wow, this would make a great automaton!”
Later, on a clandestine visit to his studio, I found loads of inspiration and in consultation with Paula decided to include many references to his life and work in the automaton.
The six-armed magician doing multiple simultaneous tricks refers to Cy’s many talents, including the fact that he is a gifted flautist. The Magician is on stage in front of a Roman-Greco edifice (in homage to Cy’s home-away-from-home, Florence, Italy), with a rotating hypnotic disc in the center to represent Cy’s persuasive abilities as an ad-man in the 1960’s. There are many other symbols that Cy would recognizable as references to his life and work incorporated into the piece.
The open understory reveal the inner workings of the automaton, an intricate combination of gears, cams and levers.