Venus stamped with raised artist's initials 'MM' (on the reverse of the base) bronze with gray-green patina 45 1/2in. (115.6cm) (height) Conceived in 1942, this bronze version cast after 1980 in an edition of five
LITERATURE L. Vitali, Marini, Florence, 1946, pl. 9 (the plaster illustrated). R. Carrieri, Marino Marini Scultore, Milan, 1948, pls. 34-35 (the plaster illustrated). E. Carli, Marino Marini, Milan, 1950, pl. V (the plaster illustrated). U. Apollonio, Marino Marini scultore, Milan, 1953, pls. 26-27 (the plaster illustrated). J. etlik, Marini, Prague, 1966, pl. 17. A.M. Hammacher, Marino Marini Sculptures, Paintings, Drawings , New York, 1970, pl. 72 (the plaster illustrated). P. Waldberg, H. Read and G. di San Lazzaro, Marino Marini, Complete Works, New York, 1970, p. 116 (the plaster illustrated). C. Pirovano, Marino Marini, Scultore, Milan, 1972, no. 125 (the plaster illustrated). Marino Marini, Japan, 1978, pl. 62 (the plaster illustrated).. C. Pirovano (ed.), Marino Marini, Catalogo del Museo di San Pancrazio di Firenze, Milan, 1988, p. 87, no. 70 (the plaster illustrated). C. Pirovano, Il Museo Marino Marini a Florence, Milan, 1990, p. 49 (the plaster illustrated). G. Gentile, Marino Marini. Pomone e nudi femminili, Milan, 1991, pls. 65-67 (the plaster illustrated). Fondazione Marino Marini (ed.), Marino Marini, Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures, Milan, 1998, p. 121, no. 172b (the edition listed, the plaster illustrated as no. 172a).
This work is accompanied by a photo certificate of authenticity from the Marino Marini Foundation dated 29 October 2013, archive no. 292.
Marino Marini's sculptural practice followed three distinct themes, separated by an overt and dynamic tension: portraiture, horses and horsemen, and the female nude. The portrait sculpture strove to define the specific psychological characteristics of his sitters, while the horses and horsemen express a generalized trauma and loss of control in a world driven by primal destructive urges. As a stark and deliberate counterpoint, the female nudes stand as timeless, serene archetypes of order and balance. It is perhaps little surprise then that the figures of Venus and of Pomona, the Etruscan goddess of fertility, begin to appear with greater frequency from the late 1930s, as the Italy and Europe slid towards war. The horses and horsemen proliferate after 1945, when the terrors of the war years and the pessimism bred of the realization of man's inhumanity could finally be expressed. Marini's sculpting of the archetypal figure of Venus can be seen in humanist terms both as a demonstration of man's will to endure and as an expression of loneliness.
'My nudes ... also have, I believe, a classical quality of anonymity. I have tried to express in them no personal sensuality of my own. I wanted to exclude from them the autobiographical element that allows us to recognize, in sculptures of Renoir or even Maillol, the artist's own mistress or at least a particular contemporary type of feminine beauty that appealed to the sculptor more immediately than an eternal type of classical beauty.' (Marino Marini, quoted in S. Hunter, Marino Marini - The Sculpture, New York, 1993, p. 171).
Marini first met Maillol in Paris in 1919. Although their relationship remained cordial, and the young man maintained a great respect for the established sculptor, his intentions were very different. Maillol's classical knowledge, and the cool manner in which he looked at the feminine nude, were transformed in Marini's passionate and erotic approach to the theme from his very earliest first works.
The female nude, whether an anonymous dancer, Pomona, or Venus as in the present sculpture, had always been part of Marini's sculptural vocabulary, from a small seated Venus of 1929 (Fondazione Marino Marini, op. cit., 1998, no. 42) through to a stone Pomona now in the Staatsgalerie für Moderne Kunst, Munich, carved in 1972 (Fondazione Marino Marini, op. cit., 1998, no. 474).
Tellingly, the sculptor drew his influences from the Italian soil, appropriating the more rounded and archaic forms of Etruscan sculpture rather than the slender elegance of later Classicism, and even taking inspiration from the bodycasts discovered in the ruins of Pompeii. Rather than taking a Praxitelean archetype, the present work echoes the heavier charms of the Colonna Venus, a Roman copy of the Greek Aphrodite of Cnidus, now in the Vatican collection. Marini's Venus is therefore not coolly sexualized but earthy and fertile. Although armless and headless, the figure's firm, high breasts and swelling belly speak of hope and regeneration. As Giovanni Carandente has noted, the Venus is rich with a 'pregnant and sensual formal opulence' (Fondazione Marino Marini, op. cit., 1998, p. 16). In this the sculptor is searching for an expression of hope and an eternal truth: 'I am going to the source of things. I am interested in a civilization at its beginning. I have always looked for the part that was the kernel of a civilization.' (from Marino Marini, 'Fragments of the artist's thoughts', quoted in S. Hunter, op. cit., New York, 1993, p. 15).
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