• Results 1
  • Artist Marino Marini (Italian, 1901 - 1980)
  • TitleRider
  • Dating 1945
  • Technique/MaterialBronze
  • AcquisitionPurchase with funds from the Association of Friends of the Gothenburg Museum of Art, 1952
  • CategorySculpture
  • Inventory NumberSk 438
  • Rights and ReproductionMarino Marini/BUS 2012©
  • Display StatusOn display in The Sculpture Hall
Signatures etc.
Marino Marini (1901–1980) was not only one of the twentieth century’s most famous sculptors, he was also one of the leading lights of Modernism. He trained as an artist at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, in a tradition in which form was influenced by both early Italian modernism and ancient art. Although Marini was born in Pistoia just north of Florence, he spent most of his life in France and Switzerland; he, meanwhile, regarded himself primarily as Etruscan rather than Italian. His sculptures certainly show the influence of the two-thousand-year-old Etruscan tradition of casting bronze. Marini was very attached to an idiom and techniques that meant his sculptures were reminiscent of ancient archaeological finds. His bronzes are carefully and sensitively patinated, with paint remains and scratches helping give his work an element of timelessness and compassion.

Marini worked with only a limited number of motifs, which he revisited and developed in long series of sculptures over many years. Apart from a small number of portraits, he concentrated largely on circus performers, earth goddesses, and equestrian sculptures. It was the last of these that brought him international renown in the 1950s. Like all his work, they have a profound symbolic content, at once both universal and personal, grounded in his experience of two world wars. Marini began working on equestrian motifs in the late 1930s, and they remained with him for life.

The man on horseback is a very old subject—one found in the earliest Greek art, three thousand years ago—a universal symbol which speaks of power and power relations or of human self-control. The horse can be seen as representing humankind’s animalistic side, but in Marini’s sculptures it can also be read as the embodiment of our relationship with Nature and the Earth’s resources.

Over the years, the relationship of Marini’s rider with the horse underwent subtle changes. In the Gothenburg Museum of Art’s Rider from 1945, animal and human together create a harmonious whole. In Marini’s compassionate portrayal of a bareback rider, stripped of the traditional magnificence of the equestrian statue, we meet man and horse in quiet communion. There are references to both the classical equestrian sculptures and Etruscan bronzes, of course. The patinated bronze has traces of inscriptions and paint, with hints of yellow, blue, and red, as if the remains of long-faded decoration.

As the years went by, Marini gave his equestrian sculptures an increasingly desperate and despairing expression. The longer he worked with the motif, the more uncontrolled the relationship between rider and horse. Towards the end of his life, no hope remained. Both horse and rider came crashing to the ground.

Per Dahlström from The Collection Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg 2014