Umberto Gervasi was born in Catania, Italy, in 1939 from a family of local sweets hawkers. At the age of 14 Gervasi began working as a bricklayer and then moved at age of 28 to Sesto San Giovanni, Milan, where he was employed as a metalworker at the large steel company Breda. During the Milanese period, his artistic vocation came to full maturity, and in the 1980s, during the crisis of the steel industry, his production stands out for a copious series of terracotta sculptures and paintings inspired by the bright colors of Sicilian folklore, his memories of a poor childhood, the workers’ struggles of his years in the factory and the consequent denunciation of worker exploitation: an intense thematic repertoire springing  from a difficult experience and revealing the artist’s visceral sensitivity to social and political issues addressed with a strong expressionist tension.