Marino Marini was born in the Tuscan town of Pistoia on 27 February 1901. He attended the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence in 1917. Although he never abandoned painting, Marini devoted himself primarily to sculpture from about 1922. From this time his work was influenced by Etruscan art and the sculpture of Arturo Martini. In 1929, Marini succeeded Martini as professor at the Scuola d’Arte di Villa Reale in Monza, a position he retained until 1940. During this period Marini travelled frequently to Paris, associating with Massimo Campigli, Giorgio de Chirico, Alberto Magnelli, and Filippo de Pisis. Marini’s first solo exhibition was held in Milan in 1932, and he won the First Prize for Sculpture at the Rome Quadriennale in 1935. In 1936, he moved to Tenero-Locarno in Switzerland, and regularly visited Zurich and Basel in the following years, befriending Alberto Giacometti. In 1940, Marini accepted a professorship in sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan, settling permanently in the city in 1946.
Marini’s sculpture revolved around several prominent motifs, though the horse and rider was a consistent subject throughout his career. Marini’s approach to the subject would change according to his response to the world, becoming increasingly angular and fraught from the 1950s onwards. Pomonas – female nudes that symbolise fertility – and portrait busts are other common motifs, as well as jugglers and dancers in the post-war period.
In 1944, Marini exhibited in the exhibition Twentieth-Century Italian Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In subsequent exhibitions in New York and London, Marini would meet Jean Arp, Max Beckmann, Alexander Calder, Lyonel Feininger, Jacques Lipchitz and Henry Moore. Marini was awarded the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1952. One of his monumental sculptures was installed in the Hague in 1959. Major retrospectives of Marini’s work were held at the Kunsthaus Zürich in 1962 and at the Palazzo Venezia in Rome in 1966. In 1973, a permanent installation of his work opened at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan. Marini died in Viareggio on 6 August 1980, and a museum dedicated to his work, Musée Marino Marini, was opened in Florence in 1988.
Marini’s work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA); Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAM), Turin; Kunstmuseum Basel; Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London; the Tate Collection, London.
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