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MARINO DI TEANA
Art critics

"Actually, Marino di teana's whole body of work is a vast architectural proposal.  In his atelier, one can see steel friezes just waiting for installation, a high-rise with glass slabs, fountain mock-ups, proposals for stained glass walls lighted on both sides That atelier contains enough to build a whole city of steel with glistening transparent colours."

Michel RAGON

 

"Marino Di Teana's sculpture is based on the principle that since our fashion is ever more open, sculpture cannot continue to have the appearance of a block.  Many other sculptures have used the same premise as their point of departure, and have opened up their sculptures by making holes in them.  Marino Di Teana on his part separates them from the mass, creating a living space inside the sculpture, creating dialogues between the empty spaces and the full ones."

 

"From the smallest of his sculptures - always designed as an original plastic proposal - to the monumental realisation in situ of certain works linking up, by necessity, with the very principle of architecture, Marino Di Teana's only aim is to balance the forms that he creates around the spatiality of the vacuum intuitively perceived as active.  Even if, by continuing part of the modern tradition in this way, he works the metal that he welds, this is (unlike what happens with his peers, Chillida, David Smith or Anthony Caro) without any expressionist desire, and for the sole purpose of contrasting with Nature, which he respects above all, a rational orthogonality distinct from the organic forms, but both profoundly human and gratuitous".

Dominique Le Buhan. (Artcurial)

 

"You will note that the majority of the sculptures bear the name "Structure".  That again proves that the concern with penetration of space is omnipresent.  One should not be surprised, he says, if, in a sculpture, the living space separating two parallel forms is so large.  The point is that in fact it does not separate them.  On the contrary: it's the link between those forms.  They experience that perpetual tension attracting them toward each other… Always, whatever the scale may be, from the small, fragile and poetic works to the ever more powerful and viral monuments, rigor dominates. The emotion rises from the tension between the full spaces and the empty ones, from the skilful proportions leading to harmony".

Marcel Joray ( Griffon editions President - Switzerland)

 

"Marino Di Teana remains faithful to that fine and long tradition.  In that sense he is a sublime blacksmith of the art of his time".

Marc Gaillard


Marino Di Teana as seen by Jean-Pierre Arnaud President of Présence de l'Art Contemporain, Angers

 

For Marino Di Teana, everything seem to come naturally as of his early childhood.  We are in Italy, a country of artists if there ever was one.  And in Lucania, a territory a bit lost in the South.  Shepherds and masons there kept contact with a Nature that they respect, while continuing to shape it lovingly.  Between carrying on the ancestral work and creation, the division is not so sharp that a mind with some degree of alertness can't regularly make the transition.  That was the case with the young Francesco Marino.  The Roman tile roofs, the streets, the trees, the haystacks and the undulation of the mountains toward infinity awaken in him a feeling for volumes, rhythm, measure, giving a meaning to space and humanising it.

 He is sixteen years old in 1936 when he expatriates himself to Argentina, to rejoin his father, who had already left to work in that country.  To him, as to many other Italians from the South, foreign parts are a second homeland!  Since the age of seven, he has been used to working on masons' scaffolding, and he will be a mason in Buenos Aires.  Soon becoming a job site manager, at the same time he takes courses at the Industrial Polytechnical School and initiates himself by reading books on the history of art.  Admitted in 1945 to the Higher School of Fine Arts of Buenos Aires, he leaves it with a brilliant record four years later as a "higher professor", receives the prestigious Mitre prize, and wins six more prizes one after another.

 

In 1952 he returns to Europe: "For me, Europe was the way of finally seeing the arts of the past in their proper surroundings".  After a trip through Spain, where he discovers Medieval art, he settles in Paris in 1953.  His first Paris exhibition is held the following year.  Living in a corner of the Mills factory in Pantin, in 1955 he begins working with metal.  Michel Ragon, who witnessed this change of course tells us: "He saws cylinders in two or makes curves with a hammer.  Certain steel plates that he uses are up to four centimetres thick.  Marino Di Teana likes the power of the material, and his sculptures are always animated by a strong impetus".

 

From 1956, when he enters the Denise René Gallery, to 1975-76, when he is honoured by an important roving retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art of the city of Paris, there is a succession of exhibitions, catalogues, orders and prizes.  He wins the Saint-Gobain first prize in 1962, and receives, from Willy Brandt, the silver medal at the International Congress of Architecture in Bochum (a prize shared with Le Corbusier).

 

Marino Di Teana's manner and working spirit then find their complete expression.  A robust material, steel or concrete, dynamic space stylisation, without expressionism, the test for utopian projection as manifested in a very large number of mock-ups of buildings or "imaginary cities".  One of his 1972 sculptures is called "Structure de cité à venir" (Structure of a future city).  His humanism tempers the apparent coldness of the forms.

 

Two sculptures created in homage to musicians, Bach and Cimarosa, date from that time.  The spirit of music is never very far removed from his compositions, always rigorously organised on the basis of a dynamic vacuum, as music itself continuously plays with silence.  His own notes are those few elementary forms that he borrows from Nature and architecture: planes, curves, disks, bars, cylinders.  He uses them to build sequences, volumes of varying degree of complexity but always aimed at proposing a proper and harmonious balance between people and their environment. 

 

Some fine exhibitions and activity seething with ideas and new experimentation characterise the last three decades.  The tireless Marino Di Teana works with formidable masses of steel, animating new retrospectives and struggling for a practice that would be richer and more open to the spiritual and to the imagination of architecture and town planning.  His teaching during a quarter of a century at the American International School of Fontainebleau and the series of lectures given in 1997 in Seoul (where he was applauded by his architecture peers), not to mention the ones that he gave at Harvard and in South America, make this "grand métèque" (métèque" meaning any dark skin foreigner living in France), as he calls himself, one of the best ambassadors on the international cultural scene.

 

On the picture rails in his atelier in Perigny-sur-Yerres (which he built himself), a visitor can see a continuous series hanging there of photographs of mock-ups of those "cities of the future" that he imagined in the 1960s, staged against a background of an animated sky of moving clouds. Thanks to the photographic montages made by the artist, they dominate, from the guardrail of the upper gallery, the gigantic terracing of the metal sculptures and constitute a perfect rendering, by contrasting complementarity, of the aerial and poetic dimension of Marino Di Teana's work. 

Jean-Pierre Arnaud.



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