Modern Art auction: Marino Marini


Mario Marini is renowned for his intense artistic exploration of the subject of horses and riders. A beautiful example of this central motif from 1949, made of painted plaster, will be offered at the Modern Art auction on 26 November 2019.

For Marino Marini, the equestrian group has always represented an opportunity to give shape to human history. His obsession endured throughout his whole career and he painted, drew and sculpted (out of marble and bronze) countless horses and riders while progressively directing his initially rough and dry realism towards an ever more abstract and geometric style.

The motif of horse and rider first appeared in the artist’s work in 1936, and its earliest incarnation displayed slender proportions and a calm, formal equilibrium. By the following year, however, the gestures had already become more restless; the horse appears to be stamping its hooves and the rider is depicted in an unstable stance. Ultimately, in the 1940s, the earlier harmonious proportions were abandoned in favour of the figure’s increasing abstraction and geometric orientation – bearing witness to the anguish and suffering of the World War. In this 1949 sculpture, titled “Cavallo e cavaliere”, however, Marini seems to have restored the generous harmony of previous years. The horse is not represented motionless with an elongated neck and an open mouth, as one might expect from the year in which the work was created. On the contrary, the two figures coexist in perfect balance; their bodies are embedded like elements of a single cross-shaped structure and create a harmonious dialogue between the horizontal line of the horse and the vertical line of the human figure.

Marino Marini, Cavallo e cavaliere, c. 1949, painted plaster, 40 x 25 x 18 cm, estimate € 130,000 – 180,000

“The idea of horse and rider came about a long time ago. It is a search, the need for a certain architectural form that fulfils a spiritual need at a certain point in time. And so you keep searching for this form in order to make it more and more real.”
Marino Marini

Plaster also represents a field of intensive experimentation for the artist, a tool for reflecting on the formative potential of sculpture. By emphasising the nature of the plaster itself – the ability to preserve irregular traces of the modelling or to intervene pictorially on the material – Marini is able to break down some of the boundaries of sculpture and, at the same time, establishes a new relationship between the work and its surroundings. The plaster, a material that is often used for preparatory casts of bronze works, is not regarded here as a transitional material, but as a fully finished sculpture.

Exploiting the potential of the sculptural medium, in this work Marini evokes an archaic universe and celebrates the deep harmony between man and nature, between man and the world.


Auction date: Modern Art auction, 26th November 2019, 15 p.m.

Location: Palais Dorotheum, Dorotheergasse 17, 1010 Vienna

Exhibition: 16th November 2019 –26th November 2019

Information: Alessandro Rizzi, expert for Modern and Contemporary Art at Dorotheum

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