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For other people named James Metcalfe, see James Metcalfe (disambiguation).

James "Jimmy" Metcalf (March 11, 1925 – January 27, 2012) was an American sculptor, artist and educator. Metcalf established and led a community for copper artisans in Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán, Mexico, from the 1970s until his death in 2012.[1]

Metcalf was born in New York City.[1] His parents were both stained glass artists, most notably contributing to the windows for the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.[1] Metcalf took up art and sculpture as a teenager. He enlisted in the 88th Infantry Division of the United States Army, nicknamed the Blue Devils, when he was 18 years old.[1] Metcalf fought in northern Italy during World War II, and lost three of his fingers during combat at Furlo Pass.[1]

Metcalf attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and then enrolled at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London.[1][2] He was awarded a fellowship to study ancient metallurgy and essentially moved to Deya, Majorca, in 1953.[2] There he befriended and collaborated with writer Robert Graves on his work, Adam's Rib, published in 1955.[3] Metcalf lived in Paris from 1956 to 1965, where he located his studio at the Impasse Ronsin.[1]

By 1965, Metcalf was an accomplished sculptor, with a studio on Spring Street in SoHo.[1] However, he was tired of contemporary art and moved to Mexico, including Mexico City.[1] He became friends with prominent writers and artists, including Carlos Fuentes and Carlos Pellicer, and was the first to introduce Octavio Paz to Marcel Duchamp.[1] Metcalf won the commission to forge the Olympic torch for the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.[1] He was married to Mexican actress Pilar Pellicer, his third wife, with whom he had two sons and one daughter.[1][1] Metcalf later married Pilar Pellicar's younger sister, sculptor Ana Pellicer, his fourth wife.[2]

Metcalf opened a studio and forge in 1967, where he taught artists how to create vases with a thick edge called El Borde Greuso.[2] In 1973, Melcalf and Anna Pellicer founded Casa de Artesana and a school. which would become known as the Adolfo Best Maugard School of Arts and Crafts in Santa Clara del Cobre, to promote indigenous artists and pre-Columbian coppersmithing and forging techniques.[1][2] Their work has been credited with preserving the metalworking of the region.[1]

Metcalf died in Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan, on January 27, 2012, at the age of 86.[1] He was survived by his wife, Ana Pellicer.[3] He was buried in Santa Clara del Cobre, near several of his sculptures.[1]


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