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Marino Marini

Giocolieri e Cavallo

gouache, India ink, collage on paper on canvas
1973
52,5 x 39,5 cm / 20 5/8 x 15 1/2 in.
verso signed and dated

The horse and rider became Marini’s chief theme, a singular achievement for which he will forever be best known and admired. In choosing the equestrian subject, Marini draws on a long established tradition in the history of Western Art. But unlike these usually politically motivated and often bombastic representations, which intended to embody the inviolable power, Marini was interested in the primary and elementary power of the horse and ist rider. Marini did see the whole story of humanity and nature in the figure of the horseman and the horse. According him, they represent a unity standing at the very beginning of human civilization. Over the centuries this unity created the myth of power and invincibility. The catastrophic events of the Second World War, the blunt-force reality of the horror and the misery suffered by man and beast alike, destroyed this evocative world of myth. Marini recognized the whole drama of animal and human being and of the entire western civilization. The cruelties of the war impressed upon Marinis conception of the horse and rider in new urgency, a desperate awareness of the myth imperiled. While Marinis early works favoured simple, rounded forms, his later works became increasingly abstract and the round shapes disappear in favour of an expressive, highly stylized geometry. The natural unity of horse and rider dissolves more and more, the rider could barely stay on the horses back and finally he got dropped, as a symbol of failure. "My equestrian figures are symbols of the anguish that I feel when I survey contemporary events," Marini wrote about the development of these sculptures. "Little by little, my horses become more restless, their riders less and less able to control them. Man and beast are both overcome by a catastrophe much like those that struck Sodom and Pompeii."

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