18 October 2019 - 20 June 2020

For its 2019–2020 academic year, the Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) is pleased to present a focused exhibition of sculptures created by Marino Marini between 1932 and 1949, curated by Dr. Flavio Fergonzi of Pisa’s Scuola Normale Superiore.

Marino Marini (1901–80) began his formal artistic education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, where he studied painting and sculpture. After having launched his career in the late 1920s with sculptures that explicitly referenced archaic styles (such as Egyptian or Etruscan art), Marini took up the theme of the female nude as a purely formal challenge, which became the means for him to continuously explore his innovative artistic vision. The years covered by this presentation are characterized by a progressive loss of faith in the classic model—an attitude that only accelerated among Marini’s contemporaries after the crisis of values triggered by World War II. Marini chose a different path, reducing the body to pure plastic forms while paradoxically foregrounding a perceptible, provocative carnality on their surfaces.

The sculptures on view will together attest to Marini’s astonishing attention to the details of pose, shape, and modeling. In a manner not dissimilar to that of Giorgio Morandi’s paintings, Marino Marini’s Nudi bring to the fore the juxtaposition between the continuity of architectural shape and the manner in which a sculpture’s surface communicates. The modeling of the works—compounded by the artist’s graphic interventions on their terracotta, plaster, or bronze planes—visibly interferes with their larger volumes, imbuing the sculptures with a subtle tension between form and living body.

CIMA’s exhibition will be the first ever in the United States to present in such depth the greatest examples of Marini’s large nudes, from the Maschera to the Pomona. These sculptures will be seen alongside a series of small bronze nudes created by the artist in Tenero in the late years of the war, from 1943-45, which represent the definitive crisis of the classical paradigm in Marini’s oeuvre. A series of Marini’s drawings of the female nude offering further insight into the artist’s creative process will be displayed alongside the artist’s three-dimensional works. Additionally, the exhibition will feature a post-1945 Cavaliere, showing the resolution of that ambiguity between pure volumes and superficial modeling that the artist explored through his earlier series works.

The installation will also include select drawings by a second artist in dialogue with Marini’s sculptures that lie at the boundary between figuration and abstraction. These works, along with a host of diverse public programs, will offer visitors alternate paths to understanding the Italian artist’s search for a means to portray in a contemporary way a classical subject such as the female form.