“Hero”, a public sculpture at Three Bryant Park, New York by acclaimed Italian architect and designer Antonio Pio Saracino, was commissioned in 2013 as a gift by the Italian government and Eni to symbolize friendship between Italy and the United States. “Hero”, inspired by Michelangelo’s “David” is one of two works Saracino designed as a pairing (the other work is entitled “Superhero”) known as “The Guardians: Hero and Superhero.” The project, on view indefinitely was organized by the Cultural Attachè of the Embassy of Italy Washington DC, Renato Miracco and New York/Milan based curator Helen Varola.

A new edition of Saracino’s “Hero”, is on display at the Accademia Gallery, Florence during Expo Milano 2015, the global exhibition that Italy hosts from May 1 to October 31, 2015. “Hero”, addressing Michelangelo’s “David,” which has been selected to represent the Italian Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 as an historic symbol of Italian excellence, is being promoted by the Accademia Gallery in Florence, the Italian Embassy in Washington DC and PMG Italia.

Antonio Pio Saracino is an acclaimed Italian architect and designer based in New York City. Saracino has designed buildings, monuments and products and several of his designs are part of the permanent collections of museums such as the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Art and Design in New York City. Saracino's work has been exhibited internationally in galleries, museums and prominent exhibitions that include the Venice Biennale.

Ambassador of Italy to the United States, Claudio Bisogniero states: "David: such a strong symbol of Italian heritage, and now a Guardian of the friendship between our two countries. The year of Italian Culture in the US couldn’t have left a better legacy.” Director of the Accademia Gallery, Florence, Angelo Tartuferi states “Antonio Pio Saracino has revived the matter of “David,” the white Carrara marble, for a modern reinterpretation of the sculpture, designed not for a museum or an art gallery, but for a public space in Manhattan, thus placing itself even in this respect on the trail of the original intention by Michelangelo. The best hope is that the “Hero” can represent, in the eyes of the men of our day, the same values of freedom, justice and civic pride realized by Florentines at the height of the Renaissance by Michelangelo's “David.” The Accademia Gallery in Florence, along the Italian Embassy in Washington, is pleased to present the work of Antonio Pio Saracino, which qualifies as one of the most intelligent, modern and qualitatively most significant interpretations in terms of the execution of one of the highest signs of Western culture.”

Cultural Attachè, Embassy of Italy Washington DC, Renato Miracco adds: “The iconographic value of Michelangelo’s “David” in all various interpretations throughout history becomes a symbol of multiple meanings. Antonio Pio Saracino’s “Hero” draws inspiration from the “David” and becomes symbol of friendship between two countries. The Embassy of Italy in DC has been promoting from long times those values.” Peter de Svastich, Managing Director, GEM GROUP states: “GEM is very proud to be involved with this wonderful art project that unites the timeless qualities of one of the great works of art in Western Civilization (Michelangelo’s “David”) with a brilliant modern sculpture that echoes the finest traditions of Italian craftsmanship and blends them with a more contemporary artistic vision. GEM considers it an honor to have worked with Antonio Pio Saracino, the Galleria dell’ Accademia, the Curators of this amazing art collection that surrounds this unique venue, the Italian Embassy in Washington D.C.”. Anna Santucci, Director of PMG Italia states: “’Hero for Florence’ project born taking a coffee in Bryant Park with the artist and a mutual friends. Staring at such an evocative Michelangelo's masterpiece reinterpretation, i felt a real, strong emotion”.

Helen Varola, Curator, “The Guardians: Hero and Superhero”, New York states: “Saracino’s new edition of “Hero” nods to Michelangelo’s “David,” defender of the city of Florence as a contemporary civic champion who offers protection and surveillance, also suggests a long history of vulnerability spanning centuries, politics, and cultures.”

Saracino states, “I never would have expected, two years later, to receive the great honor to see a new edition of “Hero” in the Accademia of Florence, in the same place as Michelangelo’s “David.” With the New York “Hero,” I wanted to create a symbolic protector of New York City, as “David” was intended as protector of Florence. The statue celebrates the superhuman and the inspiration that it channels. The anthropomorphic layered architectural constructions display the universal ability of mankind to cement its own presence in the world with its perennial construction skills.”

Antonio Pio Saracino is a New York-based Designer and Italian Architect. Saracino has designed buildings, monuments and products. His work is in museum collections internationally including the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Art and Design in New York City and the PowerHouse Museum in Sydney. He participated in the 54th edition of the Venice Biennale and has won numerous awards among which two American Architecture Awards from the Chicago Museum of Architecture and two Best of the Year Award by Interior Design Magazine. He was namedone of the world's 25 most interesting trendsetters by ARTnews magazine and recognized as one of the Top Ten Italian Architects under 36 by the New Italian Blood award. Saracino has exhibited his design work with Industry gallery in Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Dubai, as well as other galleries and museums internationally. His work has been reviewed internationally in publications such as The New York Times, Architectural Digest, Interior Design, Wallpaper. Vogue named Saracino 'among the most prolific Italian designers abroad.'

Among Saracino’s past public projects are GATE 150 on the occasion of the150th anniversary of the unification of Italy for the Caraffa Museum in Cordoba Argentina and the MuBE Museum in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the 2010-12 Formula 1 World Championship trophy for ENI and as winner of Brussel’s Agorafolly competition, a public installation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the European Union. In 2003, Saracino graduated cum laude with a Master's Degree in Architecture at 'La Sapienza' University of Architecture in Rome, where he worked as assistant professor of architectural design.