In memoriam: Francesco Pellizzi (1940-2023)

We mourn the loss of Francesco Pellizzi, who died unexpectedly in August. He was a distinguished Senior Fellow of the Italian Academy from the very outset, and his support for the Academy was unequivocal. Few of the select group of Senior Fellows were as engaged as he with the activities of the Academy. At seminars, conferences, and a multitude of other Academy events he was always notable for his grace, his sense of involvement, and his extraordinarily wide-ranging intellectual interests. In every semester, he carefully got to know each of our new Fellows in every discipline, and engaged generously with their interests and aspirations.

Francesco Pellizzi was a true public intellectual in the highest sense of that phrase and his cultural range was vast. He trained as an anthropologist in Rome, Paris, and Cambridge, where he studied with the very best of teachers, from Levi-Strauss on down. The journal he co-founded and edited, “RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics,” will be a lasting testimony not only to his intellectual powers and range, but also to the multitude of friends he had in so many disciplines. He established lasting friendships with many of the contributors to RES, however rigorous its editors might have been.

Those who had the privilege to have Francesco as a personal friend, or to lunch or dine with him in his lovely, informal, and treasure-filled home, will always cherish the recollections of his kindness, his wisdom, his intelligence, and his generosity. He built an extraordinary collection of objects from far-flung countries, and gave many of them away to the appropriate museums. Numerous other objects remained in his home, along with the material testimony to his extraordinarily rich engagement with contemporary art—works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, Vija Celmins, George Condo, Julio Galan, Daniel Lezama, Dan Flavin, and a host of others.

To learn more about the public life of this remarkable anthropologist, editor, writer, and art collector, visit