Born in Ortisei, in the Gardena Valley in the province of South Tyrol, northern Italy, on January 12, 1928, Ivo was the third of five children of Franz Demetz da Four (1880-1959) and Maria Mauroner da Gustin  (1891-1938) Demetz.

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Ivo was a very devout Catholic, who found deep strength and comfort in Our Lady Mother Of Jesus his entire life.

At the young age of ten, Ivo lost his beloved mother Maria to. Realizing he would never be able to say “Mom” to her again was a traumatic experience for the boy.

A year later World War II broke out in Europe, and the South Tyrol Option Agreement was put into effect. By its terms native German and Ladin speakers were forced to choose either to emigrate to Nazi Germany or to remain in Fascist Italy. Those who chose to remain became a part of an oppressed minority that was forced to speak only Italian and forfeit all vestiges of their German culture.

Thus, Ivo’s father Franz Demetz, the last mayor of Ortisei under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, both had to change his name to Francesco and found himself a widower raising five children. When he was strongly encouraged to enroll his younger sons in schools in Germany, Ivo was sent to one of the National Political Institutes of Educationin Rufach in Alsace, then on the German-French border. At the end of the war when 15 and 16-year-old boys were sent to fight, Ivo made his way home.Upon his return, he found his father in good health but straightened economic circumstances. For a period of time the family needed to rent out its own home, the Cësa da Four, in the main square of the Ortisei town center, to help make ends meet.

In their store they sold small wood carvings, wooden toys, and - with a special monopoly license - tobacco, salt and government permits, which were lucrative wares. 

Fortunately the war did not impact the Gardena Valley as severely as the nearby city of Bolzano, which was bombed by the Allies in an effort to prevent the German army from retreating. 


«God bless your works» said His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, to Mr. Ivo Demetz, President of the Demetz Art Studios, and to Mr. Konrad Piazza, sculptor and salesman, at the inauguration of the Basilica of Don Bosco (Turin, Italy) in 1988.

After the war was over and rebuilding had started, Ivo joined the family business at the age of 17, giving up his dream to study architecture.

He saw the opportunity to draw upon his father’s expertise in wood carvings to sell products like cuckoo clocks and wooden toys  to the American soldiers, who had come to help to rebuild and protect the area. Sales were so brisk that he was able to reopen the family’s wood-working shop, which had been confiscated for military purposes during the war, and expand their business into large religious sculpture, since many of those in local churches had been destroyed during the war.

At the beginning of the 1950s - due to connections made and experiences with American soldiers the back then called Vincent Demetz Figlio (named after his grandfather) began shipping religious statues to the United States, the birth of a new business.

In 1962, Ivo married Brigitte of the ANRI (Anton Riffeser) dynasty, which at that time was the largest local wood-carving company at over 200 employees.

He made a gentlemen’s agreement with his new father-in-law that they would not become competitors: Demetz would specialize in creating statues over 75 cm (30”) in size and leave the market for statuettes to ANRI. This decision may have been risky, but it resulted in something quite exceptional -- the most specialized statuary wood-carving shop in the world.


Ivo Demetz

Ivo Demetz, aged 93, passed away peacefully at home on April 11th , 2021, surrounded by his children.

Ivo was a successful entrepreneur, always full of ideas and visions. He was a pioneer in the church goods industry, especially in the manufacture of fiberglass statues. Throughout his career he was a highly respected employer, who inspired loyalty among his staff, most of whom spent their entire careers working for him.

As a businessman, Ivo went through both good and bad times. The greatest crisis he experienced was in the 1960s, when the Second Vatican Council decided there was no need for statues of Saints; consequently, the market almost disappeared overnight.

Still he managed to keep the family business afloat during those difficult years by supplying wood-carved ornaments to the furniture industry. Keeping his staff employed in this way allowed the Studio to return to creating religious statuary as soon as the Church revised its decision and demand increased. Thanks to high-profile projects, Ivo was blessed to meet two popes in his lifetime: His Holinesses Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

In view of the 1970 Alpine World Ski Championships, which were held in the Gardena Valley, Ivo Demetz built an art gallery, “Galaria da Four”, that was connected to the existing office building and workshops next to the Cësa da Four. He welcomed renowned artists, such as Luis Trenker and Jeff Koons, as well as former Italian President Sandro Pertini here.

In his leisure time he was very active. He loved skiing in the winter and playing golf and fishing in the summer.

During the last years of his life, he still walked through the Studio to inspect and supervise its work, ensuring that every artwork was perfect before it was packed and shipped, as he learned from his father