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 to oil paintings and graphics. His subjects were nudes, depictions of artists and traveling 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, outside of Italy. With his expressive formal language, Marini is one of the most important sculptors of Classical Modernism.
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 physical form and merge. As early as 1935, Marini received the first prize for his sculptural work at the II Quadriennale in Rome.
Second World War
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.
Return to Italy and international recognition
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, is 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 statues. 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 abstract formal language, he also dealt with complex 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.
1917 – Studied painting and sculpture in Florence.
1928 – First stay in Paris.
1929/1940 – Lectureship at the Villa Reale in Monza.
1938 – Marriage with Mercedes Pedrazzini.
1940 – Transfer to the Accademia di Brera.
1941/1946 – Stay in Ticino.
1950 – First solo exhibition in the USA.
1959/1964 – Participation in documenta I-III.
1973 – Opening of the Marini Museum in Florence.