'The entire history of humanity and of nature exists within the figure of the horse and rider, in every era. As a child, I observed these beings, man and horse, and they were a question mark to me. In the beginning there was a 'harmony' between them, but in the end, in contrast to this unity, the world of the car arrived, a world which captured it in a dramatic, but no less vital and vitalising manner' (Lorenzo Papi, Livorno, 1979, pp. 29-30).
Marino Marini's explorations of the equestrian theme in his paintings and sculptures comprise an essentially unique, bold artistic endeavour. It was in the theme of the horse and rider, and the deteriorating relationship between the two, that Marini sought to express his own unease at the rigors of history, at the relentless progress of technology and, above all, at the existential angst that characterised so many prominent artistic and intellectual figures in the Post-War period. Painted in 1962, Il guerriero II depicts a rider barely able to remain mounted on his steed. The forms of horse and rider have been depicted with a deliberately pared-back palette dominated by browns and ochres perhaps reminiscent of Etruscan tomb paintings, adding a deliberately earthen context. Contrasting with the geometric rigour of some of the forms adds an architectural feel, Marini invokes the clash between technology and nature.
While he remains best-known for his sculptures, which grace many museum collections and public spaces throughout the world including the famous equestrian figure at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Marini himself stated: 'Painting is born like a spontaneous need and thrives on the appetite for colour. There is no sculpture if you first don't go through this spiritual state' (Marino Marini, 'Thoughts of Marino Marini', pp.5-11, G. di San Lazzaro, ed., Homage to Marino Marini, New York, n.d., p. 6).