Marino Marini’s sculpture titled Cavaliere was sold for $1,082,500 at Sotheby’s Impressions & Modern Art Evening Sale on Nov. 9, 2009 in New York.
From the lot’s note:
“A dominant theme of Marini’s art, the subject of horse and rider underwent a number of stylistic transformations throughout the decades, from the simple, rounded forms of the early 1940s, to the highly stylized, almost abstract manner of his late works. With its solid forms, the pronounced vertical and horizontal lines, and the figure of the rider firmly seated on the horse’s back, .Cavaliere. recalls the calmer, more harmonious renderings of the theme, which culminated in the famous wooden sculpture .The Town’s Guardian Angel. of 1949-50, and its monumental bronze variant dominating Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in Venice. While the horse is represented in a moment of tension, its head and neck raised upwards, the rider still appears unperturbed, unlike the more dramatic, falling figures that dominated Marini’s sculpture of the 1950s.
In choosing the subject of horse and rider, Marini draws on a long established tradition of equestrian painting and sculpture, that had its prominent place in more or less every period throughout the history of Western art, from small-scale votive renderings of early civilizations, to the grand, triumphant statues of modern-day rulers and military leaders. While firmly grounding his art in this tradition, in contrast to the often bombastic and politically motivated sculptures created by his predecessors, Marini’s horses and riders are the embodiment of a new, raw, elemental force. Having lost its significance in the sphere of transportation and warfare, the horse in Marini’s vision acquires a more spiritual character and, unified with the image of a nude rider, becomes a symbol of humanity. Carlo Pirovano wrote about Marini’s riders executed around this time: ‘The frenetic progress of Marino’s tragic allegory of modern man, compressed between superior idealities and uncontrollable irrationality, reached the point of greatest psychological tension in the early Fifties.The cause of this was the fundamental uncertainty of the outcome of a conflict that was increasingly linked to the primary nature of the protagonists rather than the perverse development of contingent events”