Marino Marini

Marino Marini (*27 February 1901 in Pistoia; † 6 August 1980 in Viareggio) was an Italian sculptor and graphic artist. He became particularly famous for his modern interpretation of equestrian statues.

Marini's artistic repertoire ranges from sculptures and sculptures to oil paintings and graphics. His subjects were nudes, depictions of artists and travelling people as well as riders and horses. The latter take up the largest part of his œuvre and made him famous especially in other European countries. With his expressive formal language, Marini is one of the most important sculptors of Classical Modernism.

Sculpture and sculpture

Marino Marini's sculptural works are particularly distinguished for his variations on certain thematic complexes. Extraordinary bronzes were created around the theme of horse and rider. Here Marini reinvented the traditional Roman equestrian statue. While in Roman imperial times it served primarily to demonstrate power and superiority, Marini reinterpreted it with his expressive formal language. In his early bronzes, both horses and riders seem to explode their own physical form and merge with each other. As early as 1935, Marini received the first prize for his sculptural work at the II Quadriennale in Rome. Until the outbreak of World War II, he made several trips to Paris, where he came into contact with the artists of the French avant-garde. Due to the repressive measures Marini and his wife were subjected to by the fascist regime in Italy during the Second World War, they moved to the Swiss Ticino in 1941. There Marini met Alberto Giacometti, Fritz Wotruba and Germaine Richier. The artistic exchange with them led Marini to a different formal language in his sculptures after the end of the war. In addition, the existential personal plight as well as the impressions of the effects of the war in Europe left a strong impression on his work. After his return to Milan, he created equestrian bronzes whose rough execution reflects his wartime experiences. The drama of the depiction, in which the horses shy, rear up, buckle and almost throw off the respective riders, are sometimes executed almost abstractly. Sometimes Marini worked on these sculptural works made of wood or bronze with paint. Marini took part in the first documenta in 1955 with such equestrian staus. He was also represented at documenta II in 1959, but this time also with his paintings and graphic works. His participation in documenta I-III, as well as the fact that his first solo exhibition was held in the USA and not in Italy, contributed to the fact that he became known primarily abroad, but not in his home country for a long time.

Works in oil and prints

A not insignificant part of Marini's œuvre is made up of his paintings and graphic works. In bright colours and with an abstract formal language, he also dealt with the complex of themes of horses and their riders, but poetic reflections on the circus and the world of artists are also part of his works in oil and his lithographs. Dance is a central motif. His nude drawings, mostly executed as etchings, on the other hand, are more restrained and convey a closeness to Aristide Maillol's depictions of women.
As early as 1973, a museum was dedicated to Marino Marini in Florence. The artist died in 1980 in Viareggio, Tuscany.

Cavallo e Cavalliere, 1954, , 86,2 × 62 cm

Fossile équestre, 1963, collage and tempera on cardboard, 59 × 48 cm


Studied painting and sculpture in Florence
First stay in Paris
Lectureship at the Villa Reale in Monza
Marriage with Mercedes Pedrazzini
Transfer to the Accademia di Brera
Stay in Ticino
First solo exhibition in the USA
Participation in documenta I-III
Opening of the Marini Museum in Florence

Artist groups

Classical Modernism

Classical Modernism comprises various art and style movements of the first half of the 20th century. Especially across countries, there is a great heterogeneity of the arts, whereby not all artists and works can be clearly categorised. Classical Modernism includes not only the visual arts but also design, architecture and photography. The tremendous wealth of currents and tendencies in Classical Modernism shows similarities and differences and proves how strong the exchange among artists is beyond national borders and stylistic movements. Alongside the artists of Expressionism, Surrealism, Cubism, Futurism, New Objectivity and various other avant-garde movements, painters such as Marc Chagall, Marino Marini, Lovis Corinth, Marcel Duchamp, Egon Schiele, Hannah Höch, Maria Lassnig, Max Ernst, Robert Delaunay and Paul Klee belong to Classical Modernism.