Fine Art

Marino Marini

Italian, 1901-1980

Giocolieri e Cavallo

Gouache, India ink, wash and collage on paper laid down on canvas
20 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches (52.5 x 39.5 cm)
Framed: 29 x 24 inches (73.7 x 61 cm)
Signed and dated on the verso: MARINO 1973


Vincenzo Sanfo, Turin
Collection Minuti, Rome
Nicola Berardi, Bari
European collection since 1996

The Fondazione Marino Marini has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Marino Marini was born in the Tuscan town of Pistoia on February 27, 1901. He went on to study painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, but turned to sculpture around 1922, soon after graduating. From this time his work was influenced by Etruscan art and the sculpture of Arturo Martini. Marini succeeded Martini as professor at the Scuola d'Arte di Villa Reale in Monza, near Milan, in 1929, a position he retained until 1940.

During this period Marini traveled frequently to Paris, where he associated with Massimo Campigli, Giorgio de Chirico, Alberto Magnelli, and Filippo Tibertelli de Pisis. In 1936 he moved to Tenero-Locarno, in the Ticino canton in Switzerland. During the following few years the artist often visited Zurich and Basel, where he became a friend of Alberto Giacometti, Germaine Richier, and Fritz Wotruba. It was also a period of professional success; he received the Prize of the Quadriennale of Rome in 1936, and accepted a professorship in sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan in 1940. Later, in 1946, Marini settled permanently in Milan.

In 1949 Marini participated in the Twentieth-Century Italian Art show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and by 1950 Curt Valentin was exhibiting Marini's work at his Buchholz Gallery in New York. On various visits to the gallery Marini met Jean Arp, Max Beckmann, Alexander Calder, Lyonel Feininger, and Jacques Lipchitz. 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. He received the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1952 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 Zürich 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. Marini died on August 6, 1980, in Viareggio.

Marini drew on the tradition of Etruscan and northern European sculpture, reinterpreting classical themes such as the female nude, the portrait bust, and the equestrian figure, which he combined with aspects of modernism—in particular exaggerated and elongated forms. Today, Marini's equestrian groups are certainly his best-known subjects. They can be seen as a real symbol, a truly original language that he used to express himself and to interpret reality. He said in fact that “the entire history of humanity and nature could be found in the figure of the horse and rider, whatever the era. It is my way of narrating history. I need this personage to give life to the passions of man (…).”

This motif of the horse and rider is rich in classical association, referencing the great tradition of equestrian statuary in Italian artistic and political culture. Long considered to be the paradigm of imperial authority, the subject is subverted in Marini’s works, often exposing the inability of man to overcome the power of the horse. However he also said that the rider gradually becomes less and less able to control his horse and the animal grows increasingly agitated, getting so stiff that it is no longer able to rear up. Thus the horses and riders become the lacerated and tragic forms of the Miracles, or "expressionists" because, as Marini himself said, it is really the world that has become expressionist. These dissolved and extremely dramatic forms fully express Marini's anxiety, of completely ethical origin, for the human condition.

Fossils, Screams, Warriors and Compositions of elements are among the titles he gave his work when the horse/rider form was finally reduced to an unconnected and fragmentary group, when the two figures became more or less unrecognizable. They recall a drama or a tragedy that has been consumed, leaving dramatic and lifeless forms alone. The surfaces are sharp, the harsh lines cleave into the space and break it up violently so that nothing seems to have survived of the harmonious relationship between man and nature.

Our Painting, Giocoliere e Cavallo, shows the mature development of Marini’s style. The geometric forms are sharp, and the simple chromatic composition with large areas of pure color emphasize the energy and violence of the painting. In the foreground we can distinguish two white figures - the jugglers, and perpendicular to them, in the background, a horse is present. The jugglers and horse forms are merging and create a beautiful abstract example of Marini’s oeuvre.