Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Marino Marini: A Man and His Horse


The passion one finds in Marino Marini’s work strikes the viewer like a lightning rod. There is angst, desperation, pathos, pain and a theme we have seen before – of a man on horseback, riding alone, on a personal quest for his place in the universe. Marini gets it right with his surface, often vibrant colors, and capturing of the essential forms to describe his subject.


Nothing is unnecessarily added in his prints. His choice of print method is curious given his natural tendencies toward sculpture and texture, but he pulls it off well, and we willingly embrace his colors and forms.


His compositions describe one two or three horses, or an acrobat traveling between two running horses. His stamina to rein in the beasts’ strength is tenuous, but he manages to hold them in his grasp. The lone riders remind us ever so briefly of the work of Picasso and ancient equestrian statues of the Roman Empire, though the horses and riders are stretched out and strained to exaggerate emotion.


It is good to see an artist expand their creative horizons and explore new mediums. Marini was an accomplished painter as well as a printmaker. We can enjoy his rich colors and surfaces which have their own power separate from his 3D works.


Marini (1901 –1980) was born in Italy. He attended the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. His work was influenced by the sculpture of Arturo Martini. In fact, Marini succeeded him as professor at the Scuola d’Arte di Villa Reale in Monza, near Milan, but he later accepted a sculpture professorship at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan.


Marini drew upon ancient Etruscan and Northern European sculpture to develop his own mythical subjects and re-interpreting classical themes via a modern context. His riders eek something eternally out of their grasp – the land in the distance, the place one will only see beyond the next hill, around the next corner. They have a Don Quixote feel about them, but they do not feel like dreamers looking for utopia. They feel like us, looking curiously beyond our everyday parameters for something new to re-invigorate our spirit.


Marini is famous for his series of equestrian statues, which feature a man with outstretched arms on a horse. The evolution of the horse and rider as a subject in Marini's works reflects his response to the modern world.


There is a museum dedicated to Marini’s work in Florence, in the former church of San Pancrazio. Upon a recent visit to the Vatican Museums in Rome I was surprised and pleased to discover they have dedicated have an entire room to his work, which include sculptures, paintings and drawings. It is definitely worth seeing.


Awards:
Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale
Feltrinelli Prize at the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome
Prize of the Quadriennale of Rome

Public Collections:
Civic Gallery of Modern Art, Milan
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
Museum de Fundatie
Norton Simon Museum
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
Tate Collection, London


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