Marino Marini in Chicago. International-Italian Art from the 1950s

Natalia Nebel (March 17, 2010)
The Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago is hosting an exhibit dedicated to the great Italian artist of the 1950s Marino Marini. Inaugurated on March 4, the display will be on view until May 7

Marino Marini is one of Italy’s most renowned 20th century artists. An exhibit of three of his sculptural masterpieces, and thirty of his drawings, lithographs, and prints opened at the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago on March 4. 

Opening remarks by ICI director Tina Cervone stressed that this exhibit fills the ICI mission by bringing the very best of Italian culture to Chicago. "We're giving those who have always loved Marini's work an opportunity to enjoy it, while also introducing his genius to a new generation of art lovers."

Artistic director of the Museo Marino Marini, Alberto Salvadori, spoke to an eager audience at the opening, mixing an analysis of Marini's art with the fascinating story of his life. "Marini wasn't a hermit. He was a man of the world who went to the opera with Toscanini, was friends with Ernest Hemingway and Henry Moore. He was part of the 1950s international jet-set." 

Marini's friendship with Henry Moore was a deep one that benefited both creatively. "Moore had craftsmen execute his designs, while Marini worked directly on his pieces. In photos you see that Marini emerged from his studio covered with dust. Moore in contrast was always neat and dapper."

Marino Marini sculpted 150 portraits in his lifetime: Nelson Rockefeller, Igor Stravinsky and Mies Van der Rohe were among his illustrious client list.

The portrait of Mies Van der Rohe on view at the ICI is extremely powerful and not exactly flattering. We gathered around it to listen to Director Salvadori: "Marini's clients occasionally became angry with him because his portraits didn't fit the image they had of themselves. Several of them refused to take delivery of the completed work."

Director Salvadori also pointed out that themes of iconic female and male figures were constants for Marini. "Venere" (1942) and "Knight," (1953) on display at the ICI, are excellent examples of Marini's fascination with the earth mother "pomone" and the dynamic male rider who is one with his horse.

Marino Marini's creative spirit never wavered, but his vision of the world changed as he aged. His mood became melancholy. This passage from his writing says it all:  “My work over the past fourteen years has not attempted to be heroic but, rather, tragic... my figures are architectures of an enormous tragedy.”

The work shown in this exhibit is on loan from the city of Florence's Marino Marini Museum collection, and the Marino Marini Foundation of Pistoia. Prime Realty Group Trust, the managers of 330 N. Wabash, loaned the Mies Van der Rohe bust. 

Where: Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago ( 500 N. Michigan, Suite 1450)
When: March 4-May 7 (Monday through Friday/ from 9AM to 1PM and from 2 PM to 5PM)
Admission is free.