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Marino Marini: The Artist of Stylised Equestrian Sculptures

By Paolo Monti - Available in the BEIC digital library and uploaded in partnership with BEIC Foundation.The image comes from the Fondo Paolo Monti, owned by BEIC and located in the Civico Archivio Fotografico of Milan., CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Developing mythical images by reinterpreting classical themes drawn on the traditions of Etruscan and northern European sculpture, and combining them with aspects of modernism, the Italian artist, Marino Marini, is acclaimed as the most celebrated Italian sculptor who was instrumental in the revival of the art of portrait sculpture in Italy during the first half of the 20th century.

Best-known for his figurative equestrian sculptures, Marini was born on February 27, 1901, in the Tuscan town of Pistoia, Italy. In 1917, he studied painting and sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. After concentrating on painting for most of the 1920s, he created his first important sculptures about 1928. He consistently refined two major images: the female nude and the horse and rider.

Marini’s sensitivity to form and surface owes much to Etruscan and Roman works, but the inner tension of his bold, straining figures reflects the influence of German Gothic sculpture. He was also influenced by the sculpture of Arturo Martini, whom he succeeded as a professor at the Scuola d’Arte di Villa Reale in Monza, near Milan in 1929, a position he retained until 1940. During this period he frequently traveled to Paris, where he associated with major modernist artists.

In 1936, Marini received the Prize of the Quadriennale of Rome. He accepted a professorship in sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan, in 1940. In 1944, he participated in Twentieth-Century Italian Art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He was later given a solo exhibition by Curt Valentin Gallery in 1950, where the artist befriended Alexander Calder and Jean Arp. On his return to Europe, he stopped in London, where the Hanover Gallery had organized a solo show of his work, and there met Henry Moore.

In 1951 a Marini exhibition traveled from the Kestner-Gesellschaft Hannover to the Kunstverein in Hamburg and the Haus der Kunst of Munich. In 1952, he was awarded the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale and the Feltrinelli Prize at the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome in 1954. One of his monumental sculptures was installed in the Hague in 1959.

Retrospectives of Marini’s work took place at the Kunsthaus Zurich in 1962 and at the Palazzo Venezia in Rome in 1966. His paintings were exhibited for the first time at Toninelli Arte Moderna in Milan in 1963-64. In 1973 a permanent installation of his work opened at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan, and in 1978 a Marini show was presented at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.

At 79, Marino Marini died on August 6, 1980, in Viareggio and was buried at Cimitero Comunale of Pistoia, Toscana, Italy. After his death, the Marino Marini Museum dedicated to his oeuvre opened in Florence in 1988.


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