Peter Chinni, son of Calabrian parents, was born on March 21st, 1928 in the village of Mt. Kisco, New York where he spent his youth.
At 19 he enrolled in the Art Students League in New York where he studied under Kenneth Hayes Miller, Julian Levi, and Edwin Dickinson; the latter had a major influence on his overall development in helping him define nobility and purpose in his involvement with art. He was awarded the Daniel Schnackenberg Scholarship and was soon to meet Ercole Sozzi who supported his work and introduced him to Professor Lionello Venturi, noted Art Historian, who was instrumental in the first of Chinni's many sojourns in Italy and acceptance to the Accademia di Belli Arti in Rome.
In 1949 he left the Accademia di Belli Art to study privately with painter Felice Casorati in Turin and leter with the cubist sculptor and painter Roberto Melli in Rome.
After two years of military duties in Germany for the US Armed Forces, Chinni worked from his studio in Manhattan in the Carnegia Hall Building and had his first one-man show of paintings at Fairleigh Dickenson University in New Jersey. He returned to Rome in 1954, studied etching with Emilio Sorini, and exhibited his work at the Il Torcoliere Gallery where he met the American sculptor Jim Wines whose friendship and assistance led him to his first sculpture in 1957. Italian hilltowns perched on their cliffs and the influence of Italian Futurism helped him in his attempts to clarify and exploit three-dimentional forms, progressively eiliminating pictorial vision to let elements of abstraction take a larger part.
His first one-man exhibit of sculpture was held in 1959 at
the Janet Nessler Gallery, during which the City of St. Louis
purchase "Boy and Bird" and the Denver Museum in Colorado
acquired "Attitudes of Man", a 4'x3' bronze high relief.
Other one-man shows followed in New York: at the Royal Marks
Gallery (1964), the Albert Loeb Gallery (1966), the Loeb-Krugier
Gallery (1969), while group shows were offered to him in the
U.S. (at the Whitney Museum, The Corcoran Gallery in Washington,
the Cargenie International in Pittsburgh) and abroad, mainly
in Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Italy.
The oil embargo and the general political climate forced him to return to the U.S. in 1976 without completing his projects of creating a School of Arts, Music, and Theater in his Tuscan village. Settled in Westchester, Chinni continued to exhibit regularly during the following years: At the Hooks-Epstein Gallery (Houston, TX), The Katonah Gallery (Katonah, NY), the Musée d'Ixelle (Brussells), the Beeckestijn Museum in Holland, and the Bouma Gallerie in Amsterdam to name a few. There were purchases made by the Smithsonian Institute, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and numerous public and private collectors.
Chinni's work as we see it today through his drawings and sculpture, evolves further from the abstract interlocked shapes to organic forms interrelating with one another in a highly-energized structure. The same energy is felt in his paintings with the exuberance of his palette, the strong rhythm of his lines, and the optimism of his vision.