Having lived in Switzerland during the second half of the war, Marini returned toMilanin 1946, and immediately started working, developing some of his favourite themes into highly sophisticated and refined images. His role as a leading sculptor on the Italian as well as international scene was reaffirmed at the Venice Biennale of 1948, where he was elected as one of the jury members, and assigned an exhibition room for his work. His renderings of the horse and rider theme during this period are characterised by a sense of tranquillity, with both man and animal appearing unperturbed, unlike the more dramatic, falling figures that dominated Marini’s sculpture of the 1950s. In the present composition, an impression of balance is created by the pronounced horizontality and solidity of the horse’s figure, upon which the rider is firmly seated, his outstretched arms emphasizing the sense of equilibrium.
Carlo Pirovano wrote: ‘When he returned to Milan after the war […], Marino began to work again with great enthusiasm. He seemed to be possessed by an uncontrollable creative drive that expressed itself not so much in the formulation of new themes or the proposal of refined narrative motifs as in the sophisticated formal variation of compositions that were apparently banal and predictable in their subject matter’ (C. Pirovano in Marino Marini, Mitografia (exhibition catalogue), Galleria dello Scudo, Verona, 1994-95, p. 52). Writing about Marini’s horse and rider imagery from this period, Pirovano further observed: ‘The interaction between the two protagonists increased in intensity, with ever-closer links creating interdependence that was emotional rather than merely functional (in the sense of the use of the animal simply as a means of transport). This merging into a single entity accentuated, first and foremost, the metaphorical aspects, while on a formal plane it caused the monocentric equilibrium to slowly deteriorate, leading to a dynamic explosion, with all its excitement and anguish, that was to be the dominant theme of Marino’s work of the Fifties’ (ibid., p. 54).
Other casts from this edition are in the Fondazione Marino Marini in Pistoia, Museum of Art in San Diego and Bridgestone Museum of Art in Tokyo.
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