Marino Marini (1901-1980)

Marino Marini was born on February 27, 1901 at Pistoia in Tuscany and, in 1917, entered the Fine Arts Academy of Florence where he concentrated in drawing and sculpture. He was greatly influenced by the sculpture of Medardo Rosso, while the ancient art of Florence also formed an important part of his education. At the same time, he became devoted to painting, an art he practiced throughout his career, though after 1922, he was primarily engaged with sculpture. At this period, his work was influenced by both Etruscan art and Arturo Martini’s sculpture. Marini succeeded Martini as professor at the art school at the Villa Reale di Monza near Milan. During a visit to Paris in 1930, Marini met Picasso, Maillol, Braque, Laurens, and Lipchitz, and during a second visit the following year, he got to know Tanguy, de Chirico, Kandinsky, and Gonzales. In 1932, he had his first solo exhibition at the Galleria Milano in Milan. He later showed at the Sabatello Gallery in Rome and was accepted as an honorary member of the Florentine Academy of Arts.

Marini’s work was dominated by the theme of the horseman, an image rooted in his strong response to a 13th century equestrian statue of Henry II that he had seen on the Gothic cathedral in Bamberg, Germany. In 1941, he was given the chair of sculpture at the Brera Academy in Milan, but the following year, he and his wife, Mercedes Pedrazzini, known as “Marina,” had to seek refuge in Locarno, where he painted and sculpted his Pomonas. From his refuge in the Ticino, he often went to Zurich and Basel, where he frequented Giacometti, Bänniger, Wotruba, Richier, and Heller. In 1946, he resumed his chair at the Brera, taking part in numerous group exhibitions in the ensuing years. In 1948, he met and befriended Henry Moore and was introduced to Peggy Guggenheim, who bought an example his The Angel of the City. He also met the dealer Curt Valentin, who was a major supporter of his work and became his agent in the United States. In 1952, Marini won the International Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale, and after that, his work was shown all over Europe and in New York. He died on August 6, 1980 at Viareggio.