Ernest Trova (1927-2009) was an artist best known for his “Falling Man” series. Born in Clayton, Missouri, he was influenced by his father who worked as an industrial tool designer and inventor. Upon his father’s death shortly after Trova’s high school graduation, he found a job as a window dresser for a large department store. As a self-taught artist, he was inspired by painters Francis Bacon, Jean Dubuffet and Willem DeKooning but was also artistically influenced by the mannequins with which he worked, evident in his oeuvre.
Trova rose to prominence in the art world in the 1960s with his “Falling Man” paintings, prints, and sculptures featuring an armless human figure, which he considered “man at his most imperfect.” A solo exhibition of his paintings inaugurated the Pace Gallery in New York in 1963, where he continued to exhibit for more than 20 years.
He continued “Falling Man” through the 1970s and 80s and over the years, the sculpture was created with various materials such as nickel and chrome-plated bronze, enamel on aluminum, and stainless steel and each was finished with an industrial sheen. In 1975 he co-founded Laumeier Sculpture Park with a gift of more than 40 large-scale artworks to St. Louis County.
Trova’s work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Tate Gallery, among others. He is survived by three children.