MARINO MARINI (1901-1980)
MARINO MARINI (1901-1980)
MARINO MARINI (1901-1980)
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MARINO MARINI (1901-1980)
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MARINO MARINI (1901-1980)


MARINO MARINI (1901-1980)
with raised initials 'M.M' (on the top of the base)
bronze with brown patina, hand-chiseled and painted by the artist
Height: 17 7/8 in. (45.6 cm.)
Conceived in 1951
Joseph and Sylvia Slifka, New York.
Alan Slifka, New York (by descent from the above).
By descent from the above to the present owner.
U. Apollonio, Marino Marini, Scultore, Milan, 1953 (another cast illustrated, pl. 104; titled Composition).
E. Trier, Marino Marini, Cologne, 1954, p. 19 (another cast illustrated).
H. Lederer and E. Trier, The Sculpture of Marino Marini, Stuttgart, 1961, p. 140 (another cast illustrated, pl. 69).
P. Waldberg, H. Read and G. Di San Lazzaro, Marino Marini, Complete Works, New York, 1970, p. 365, no. 280 (another cast illustrated).
C. Pirovano, Marino Marini, Scultore, Milan, 1972, no. 286 (another cast illustrated, p. 163).
G. Iovane, Marino Marini, Milan, 1990, p. 106 (another cast illustrated).
M. Meneguzzo, Marino Marini: Cavalli e Cavalieri, Milan, 1997, pp. 131-133, no. 61 (another cast illustrated).
Fondazione Marino Marini, ed., Marino Marini: Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures, Milan, 1998, no. 357b (plaster version illustrated, p. 252).
Further details
The Marino Marini Foundation has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Lot Essay

"Personally, I no longer have the intention of celebrating the victory of a hero. I would like to express something tragic, almost the twilight of humanity, a defeat rather than a victory. If you consider, one after another, my statues you will notice that each time the rider becomes less capable of mastering his horse and the animal becomes increasingly intractable and wilder instead of yielding. Quite seriously, I believe that we are approaching the end of the world" (Marini quoted in P. Waldberg, H. Read and G. di San Lazzarro, op. cit., p. 491).
Cavaliere is a bronze sculpture by Marino Marini based on a plaster original showing the Italian artist's most celebrated theme and most enduring motif in his oeuvre: a man on a horse. In this sculpture, conceived in 1951, Marini has depicted the rider unbalanced, just on the brink of falling from his steed. This is an image of collapse, of the end of the old bond between man and horse, and indeed between Man and Nature, which Marini saw as a sign of the times in the industrial world, especially in the wake of the Second World War. Cavaliere indicates Marini's own anxieties at this apocalyptic rupture, and channels them all the more through the sculpture's almost geometric forms.
Marini’s first forays into equestrian sculpture date to the second half of the 1930s. These early statues show the rider steady and balanced on the back of the horse, recalling the traditional triumphant stance of the warrior on horseback. In the wake of the Second World War, however, Marini ruptured this classical equilibrium and began to depict the rider as increasingly imperiled on his mount; the monumental solidity that characterised his earlier works is replaced by a sense of climax and crisis.
In the present sculpture, the bold contrast between the sturdy, earthbound horse, its feet planted at each corner of the work's base, and the fragile rider, dramatically suspended in mid-air contrasts with Marini's earlier equestrian sculptures, which employ the reduced, rounded forms reminiscent of Etruscan statuary that the artist is known to have admired. The rider's body is flung back dramatically, his truncated limbs flailing in an effort to stop his inevitable fall. The horse's legs are splayed widely, as if the animal had recently come to an abrupt halt. Its neck and head stretch straight up toward the sky in a posture of keening and anguish, recalling the felled horse in Pablo Picasso's Guernica, a key influence on Marini's imagery in the post-war period.
Marini's own statements make clear the contemporary significance that he accorded his equestrian sculptures. In 1972, the artist observed, "My equestrian statues express the torment caused by the events of this century. The restlessness of my horse grows with each new work, the rider appears increasingly worn out, he has lost his dominance over the beast and the catastrophes to which he succumbs are similar to those which destroyed Sodom and Pompeii" (quoted in Fondazione Marino Marini, ed., op. cit., Milan, 1998, p. 14).
The casting process did not mark the end of Marini's relationship with his sculptures: once cast, he kept working on them, chiseling, corroding and sometimes painting the bronze, treating the surface as a painter would the canvas. Cavaliere is a remarkable and rare example of such practice. The surface of the work conveys as much tension, struggle and drama as its subject-matter and shows Marini's modern contribution to the techniques of bronze sculpture, testing the expressive potential of the medium.

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