Contemporary, Modern Art and Old Masters

Auction 172 - 2 March 2019

Contemporary, Modern Art and Old Masters Lot 243

Marino Marini (Italy / 1901 - 1980)
Cavallo e Cavaliere (1954)


€ 55 000 - 70 000

"M. Marini Complete Works" H. Read, P. Waldberg & G. Di San Lazzaro, Tudor publ, N.Y. 1970, cat. nr. 192, p. 428 reprod.
Photo certificate by the Fondazione Marino Marini
Included in the archives Marino Marini as nr. 789
private coll., Milan


"For me, to conceive of a form is to perceive a colour – vision of colour, ardour of life, ardour of form. It's in colours I have looked for the point of departure for each idea which was to become a reality. Painting is to place oneself in the poetry of action; and action in coming about becomes true."

Although best known as a sculptor, Marino Marini has always continued to paint and draw. He wanted to create mythical images by reinterpreting classical themes in the light of contemporary ideas and theories. In his formal language he was inspired by archaic art such as Greek and Etruscan. The motif of the rider on horseback often returns in his works, as symbols of his own unique vocabulary that he uses to express reality.

Marini states that the complete history of man and nature in any era can be found in the figure of horse and rider. At the end of the 1940s, however, Marini's rider was increasingly unable to restrain his horse. The animal becomes more agitated as the style of the artist becomes more abstract. Figuration remains, but the energy emanating from his brushstroke reflects his recent encounter with abstract expressionism in New York, where he exhibits for the first time in 1950.

"Cavallo e cavaliere" (1954) expresses beautifully this formal and intrinsic evolution. The horse rears, the rider raising his arms to heaven in desperation. Only a few subtle scratches in the black tempera depict a black all-absorbing chaos. The scarlet hue near the heads of the figures, as if they caught fire, increases the panic. The blue, oppressive framework emphasizes the composition. The brushstroke's texture is rough and uneven, amplifying the painting's raw character.

Overall chaos and torment of the figures, the dark tonality and the vibrating composition: these are typical elements for Marini's oeuvre in this period. Fear and dismay play a dominant role. The struggle between horse and horseman symbolizes the human condition and expresses Marini's fear of moral decay. The Second World War devastation and the upcoming nuclear threat of the Cold War prevailed in the 1950s. Not only Marini but a whole generation of artists such as Alberto Giacometti struggle with this feeling and try to give it a place in art.

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