Marino Marini, L'idea del cavaliere, 1955,
Bronze, painted by the artist, 220 cm hoch, © 2011 ProLitteris, Zurich
At first glance it seems to be the sheer size of this bronze sculpture by Marino Marini that makes it so formidable. Nevertheless, one can also imagine it having the same expressive impact in a smaller format. The horse´s neck is stretched, its head high as though it were striving upwards; meanwhile, in an opposing movement, the legs and feet are pressing as hard as they can into the earth. Its rider looks rigid, almost immoveable. His arms are pressed tightly against his body as if he has given up all attempt of controlling his mount. Delicate colouring contrasts with the monumentality of the bronze, thus reinforcing the emotional nature of the depiction.
Marino Marini created “Idea for the rider” in 1955. Since the 1930s he had worked repeatedly with this motif, taking inspiration from classical images of the horse and rider as well as modern ones. He experimented in various materials such as plaster, stone, bronze and wood, always changing the depiction itself with a simplified and almost abstract use of elementary components. He explained his fascination with this motif: “My passion for the horse represents my personal quest for a kind of “visual architecture”. The shape of the horse contrasts that of the person: the horse is horizontal; the person is vertical... Anyway, my concept changed over the years, and at one point what had previously been solemn and silent, became emotional and expressionist.”
For Marini the turning point came with the Second World War and the ensuing Cold War between the eastern and western powers. Marini continued: “My rider figures are symbols of the anger I feel when I regard current events. Little by little my horses grew more restless and their riders less and less able to control them. Man and beast were both overwhelmed by a catastrophe that was very similar to the ones that destroyed Sodom and Pompeii.”
Thus Marini´s later rider depictions including “L´idea del cavaliere” came to embody high aesthetics, psychological complexity and monumental tragedy.