Marino Marini at The Center for Italian Modern Art, NYC

Sculpture Forum 7: “Marino Marini: Arcadian Nudes” 17 October 2019 – 13 June 2020 at The Center for Italian Modern Art, New York. Participants: Garth Evans, Brandt Junceau, Jock Ireland, Choghakate Kazarian (video by Maud Bryt). ©SculptureForum2020 Special thank you to The Center for Italian Modern Art for allowing us to videotape the exhibit. Click HERE to read Brandt Junceau’s article on the exhibit in The Brooklyn Rail.

Here are some excerpts from the Sculpture Forum conversation:

When I was a student, back in the late 1950s—can you believe it?—there were three Italian sculptors that we were very aware of/paid some attention to: Marino Marini, Giacomo Manzu, and Emilio Greco. I have to say that, as a kind of callow youth, I didn’t think highly of any of them at the time. And I was not aware of this body of work that we’ve been looking at of the figure. I was aware really particularly of his figures on horses which I think is probably the better-known work that Marini produced. Although this work is very classical, mostly standing, nude, female figures—and in some ways the kind of thing I would think is going to be predictable and a little boring—I was actually quite moved by it I have to admit at this point. It really touched me in some place—and in the course of this conversation I’ll try to figure out where it touched me. –GARTH EVANS

The sense of presence is what I felt. It didn’t strike me as a psychological presence, but a physical presence. –GARTH

Right: it’s a lack of shame about the body. The body’s present because of that. It believes in itself—and it’s unembarrassed. –JOCK IRELAND

One of the things I found very surprising was a kind of sense of humor, a touch of, you know, not out loud laughter. . . –GARTH

There is clearly a smile in these figures, not necessarily a smile on the face, but as if the entire body was smiling—but at the same time I feel a lot of modesty in these nudes. They’re not offering themselves. Their hands and arms are closed and close to their own bodies—and sometimes they don’t even have arms. –CHOGHAKATE KAZARIAN

I was enthralled really by the forms, these shapes that these figures are made up from. The way they hover between a kind of pure form, a pure geometric form—and a fleshy, full, bodily sense of something pulsing—and never quite settle one way or the other. –GARTH

I don’t know if I really feel bones in these bodies. I have a feeling they’re envelopes. They’re full, but I don’t have the feeling of flesh and bones. For me, they’re pure envelopes. I think also very frequently when especially in the figures without arms where we can literally see right through them, through the hollow casts—I feel they’re really envelopes. –CHOGHAKATE

It also seems to me that they were found in a way—like pre-existing—and although the artist has made the thing from scratch, it’s as if he’s working from something that’s always been there and he barely touches it: he nudges it a bit: he kind of scratches his name, scratches the features: almost like graffiti: a small vandalism, a tender vandalism. –BRANDT JUNCEAU

We’re using the word “scratching” and I’m not sure how important it is. It was only in some works.I never felt it was a kind of scratching like someone scratching an itch, an irritation. It was another kind of activity which was almost erotic. –GARTH

It makes me think of the grit in an oyster that makes the pearl. –BRANDT

Where the figures come from is interesting. They don’t evolve purely out of process.  These things come out of a dream, and a dream that didn’t last. He started when he was young, but I think that after 1949 he couldn’t make another female nude. –JOCK

I felt very strongly as a student making life-size figures—male and female nude figures—that it was a very strange thing to be doing—and that in some way it represented an act of faith. And I’m not sure what I mean by that. It was a belief in something. And I think this is one of the things I felt looking at this work. It took me back to that sense I had as a student that I was entering upon a kind of endeavor that required one to have some kind of faith in humanity, in people. –GARTHIt’s a beautiful exhibition, in a beautiful space, and beautifully lit, and really a joy. –GARTH 

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