In a small, residential building at 421 Broome Street in Manhattan, we arrived at the fourth floor and were ushered into a large kitchen by four young Italian women who served us Italian coffee.
This was the home of CIMA, Center for Italian Modern Art, “home” being the key word. We felt comfortable right away – where else are you offered coffee and cheerful conversation before a tour?
Our passionate guide Claudia, who shared her vast knowledge, took us to through the gallery, a jewel- box space, both intimate and expansive.
As we walked, Claudia shared Marino Marini’s history, a sculptor considered to have brought a new aesthetic to the very nature of sculpture.
Marini (1901-1980) started out as a painter. At age 16, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. He also learned drawing and woodcuts – all in the classical style.
Then he discovered what he loved most: sculpture. At this point, he left Florence. He felt there were too many masterpieces everywhere he turned, and he wanted to find his OWN way through art.
In 1929 he went to Milan and as Claudia showed us his work, she spoke so lovingly about each piece, it’s as if they were her children.
In 1939, Marini created Giovinetta (Young Lady) in bronze. Plump and voluptuous, in stark contrast to classically prefect bodies, he made cracks and imperfections along the surface, recognizing her humanity. Her arms are missing; this is Marini’s way of commenting on the brutality of World War II.
Next, the imposing, muscular Pomona, 1945, named for the Roman goddess of fertility, gardens, fruits, and orchards. Walk behind Pomona, and you see she is hiding a piece of fruit in her hand.
An inspired touch was the addition of paintings of female nudes. One was by Wilhelm de Kooning and another by Giacometti.
But the hero of the day was Marino Marini, whose 30 female nudes had protruding bellies, sagging breasts, and even thick thighs. He had the ability to humanize them, while still showing their timeless beauty.
The exhibit is open through June 13, 2020. Don’t miss it! $10 during open hours. Free for students. For more information, go to italianmodernart.com