Francesco Marino Di Teana is a painter, sculptor, architect, poet and philosopher, who marked the sculpture of 1950s-1960s by developing his theories of the tri-unit logic, which integrates the “void” like an active element of the pictorial and architectural composition.
Born in 1920, in a poor farmer family at a small village of Teana, perched on the hill of the province of Potenza in the Basilicata region in Italy.
When he was 16 years old, the war broke out and Italy allied with Germany. Francesco was sent to Argentina to find his father who abandoned his family a few years ago to make his fortune. In Buenos Aires, his father received him coldly and accepted him only on condition that he had to work to earn a living. He, therefore, started to work at the construction site as builder at the beginning and then became the foreman. At the same time, he passed the evening classes in mechanics and polytechnic at National School of Salguero where he graduated with a degree in architecture. He then successfully passed the challenging entrance examinations of Ernesto de la Carcova Fine Arts School. However, his father could not stand the idea of stopping works and kicked him out. Even if living on the street, Marino di Teana attended every course and worked to live in the evening. Finally, he graduated from the school with top marks of degree “Premio Mittre”, equivalent to the Prix de Rome. Although he was awarded a professorship and chair at University, he decided to go back to Europe in 1952, thanks to the scholarship offered by French Embassy in Argentina, to follow his own path but not a solid one.
He firstly passed through Santiago de Compostela and then decided to visit Spain, and finally settled in Paris in 1953. Without a penny, Marino Di Teana slept at public gardens, as the one next to the Rodin Museum, and warmed him up at Fine Art School, located on Bonaparte Street ( Rue Bonaparte ). He made ends meet by doing some odd jobs, like renovating apartments, painting the ceiling and making furniture. But without working paper, he couldn’t get properly paid. Thanks to Georges Guillot, a decorator, for whom he made some shop mannequins in a small studio on the Passy Street ( Rue de Passy).
It was in this period when he took the courses of Le Corbusier at Sèvres-Babylone and met the artists and intellectuals of St Germain-des-Près quarter. But nobody in the Fine Arts School was interested in the abstract sculptures that he began to create. With the insistence of Huguette Séjournet, a young painter, he obtained a job as decorator for her house, who then became his wife and introduced him to a prestigious gallery of Denise René and presented his first sculptures.
He showed him his strange small models, gathering in a shoe-box, which attracted instantly Denise René’s eyes. Thereafter, he organized several personal exhibitions for Marino Di Teana and put him alongside those renowned artists, such as Vasarely, Jesús-Rafael Soto, Julio Le Parc, Sonia Delaunay, François Morellet, Carlos Cruz-Díez and Richard Mortensen.
Marino di Teana always went out with many artists like Yaacov Agam, Jean Arp, Jean Tinguely, Jean Dubuffet, César and Luis Tomasello, yet he was fascinated much more by architecture than by the art world.
By conceiving his theory “tri-unit” of “active void” that journalist Harry Belley regards as one of the most important discoveries of sculpture in the twentieth century, he put the space and void, the mass and form as well in the same important place.
He thus developed the sculptures, and conceived his the esthetic structures, which could be transformed as architectural buildings, the “architectural sculptures”.
His keen interest in the relationship between the architecture and the sculpture has taken him to a major international competition, entitled “Sculpture for the Factory” which is launched by enterprise Saint Gobain in 1961. Faced with hundreds of competitors, he won first prize with the sculpture “Conquest of space”, nearly three meters long; the jury consisted of writer Michel Chastel, sculptor Alberto Giacometti, architect Grégoire, painter Poliakoff, professor in Aesthetics Étienne Souriau, painter and art critic Michel Seuphor and sculptor Zadkine.
This pivotal event brought him fame. His work was acknowledged in press. He was hence supported by some important artists and critics and received the enterprise sponsorship in the following year for creating a set of 8 monumental glass fountains at Grand Palais in Paris “Clarit Saint Gobain” ( 7 meters high and more than 16 meters long) for the exhibition “Contemporary Art”, and then a wall frieze, two-meter high and eight-meter long, for the Saint Gobain Chantereine’s factory.
In 1963, he left central Paris and moved to the suburbs of Périgny-sur-Yerres, in a large workshop with forgery where he lived and worked until the end of his life.
He created his architectural sculptures, regularly named in honor of great architects, such as Imhotep, Le corbusier, Pier Luigi Nervi and the others. According to numerous models that he had already made, Marino Di Teana thereafter carried out about fifty public monumental sculptures in France and in Europe ( Germany, Italy …) Over 40 sculptures were installed between the 1960s and 1970s, and the most impressive one remained today is the “Liberté (Liberty)” at Fontenay-sous-Bois of Val de Marne, which is the largest corten steel sculpture in Europe, 21 meters high and 100 tons weight. Self-supporting, this sculpture was constructed in a manner allowing it to resist the winds of up to 250 km/h.
In the 1970s, he met André Ramel, an industrialist who was famous for its know-how of unique pieces (such as luxury cars and artworks) , and opened his door to him. Marino Di Teana therefore discovered the technique of using stainless steel and hence created a number of pieces of furniture according to his lead and zinc models, such as the desks for the entrance of BFCE and for private collectors, or the sets of furniture designed in the 1950s. These works, unknown to the public, are always marked by the architectural composition, which emphasized the constant researches of artist for establishing the visual and formal conceptions, in all the creation areas: sculpture, painting, as well design.
The mid-1970s was characterized by the important exhibitions. In 1974, his first exhibition was held at Braux Sainte-Cohière Commune in the Marne department in northeastern France, then artist was put in the spotlight between 1975 and 1976 for a traveling exhibition at Saint Etienne, Reims, Montbéliard, and a retrospective at Modern Art Museum in Paris.
His international reputation progressively grew. And his Italian origins were also claimed while the twinning arrangement between Périgny et Teana, meanwhile, the installation of many monumental sculptures in his hometown. Argentina, his adoptive country where he gained his artistic training, also requested him to present it during the 40th Venice Biennale in 1982. He was given a diploma of honor of Plastic Artists. In 1987, author Tomas Alva Negri devoted him a weighty monograph; in the same year, artist traveled to Germany for his new retrospective at Saarland Museum in Saarbrücken.
In France, Galerie Patrice Carlhian (Patrice Carlhian Gallery) presented his works at its space, and Artcurial Auction House (a major auction house dedicated to modern and contemporary art today) organized several exhibitions for him as well. He participated in a lot of television projects with Art France and Antenne 2, even Patrice Carlhian made a short documentary footage, especially for his work at Fontenay-sous-bois, “ Le Chant du Corten( The Song of Corten)”.
In 1997, he was invited to represent France at the International Symposium of Arts and Sciences of Seoul in South Korea, and then exhibited in Prague in 1999. In 2008, his new monumental sculptures were installed at Teana. The following year, in 2009, he became guest of honor at the International Sculpture Triennial of Poznań in Poland.
Died on January 1st, 2012, Francesco Marino Di Teana left behind meaningful artistic heritage: numerous sculptures, which are preserved in his workshop or dispersed at collectors’ homes; as well models, plans, writing documents, reliefs, bronzes, jewelry, medals, drawings, paintings, furniture and architectural projects. Marino Di Teana Association, represented by artist’s son Nicolas Marino Di Teana who has worked by his father’s side for more than ten years, defends promotion and safeguards the works of Marino Di Teana.
Today, the Association still continues distributing artist’s rich but still little-known creation and archives all his works from the smallest models to the monumental pieces. In 2019, the first Catalogue Raisonné of artist is published by Éditions Loft, in partnership with Nicolas Marino, assembles all sculptural works of artist between 1948 and 2012.
Denise René Galley, Paris, France
Museum of Fine Arts, La Chaux de Fond, Swiss
Sculptures-Structures,Denise René Galley, Paris, France
Exhibition of jewellery for the Cardin collection,Espace Pierre Cardin, Paris, France
Culture House of Orleans, Orleans, France
Cultural Center of Val d’Yerres, France
Braux Sainte Cohière Chateau, Champagne, France
Attali Gallery, Paris, France
Culture House of Saint-Etienne, France
Fine Arts Museum of St Denis of Reims, Champagne, France
Modern Art Museum of Paris, retrospective exhibition, France
Maison des Arts et des Loisirs, Monbéliard, France
Art Actuel Gallery, Nancy, France
Culture House of Dreux, Dreux, France
Fine Arts Museum of Pau, Pau, France
Biennale of Venice, Italy
Giebel Gallery, Saarlouis, Germany
Moderne Gallery - National Saarland Museum, Saarbrücken, Germany
Carlhian Gallery, Paris, France
Sculptures 1960-1987, Retrospective exhibition, Artcurial Gallery, Paris, France
Artcurial Gallery, Paris, France.
Works From 1952 to Nowadays, Carlhian Gallery, Paris, France.
Art and History Museum, Neuchâtel, Swiss
Sculptures from 1953 to 1964, Artcurial Gallery, Paris, France
Di Teana - A Painter, Carlhian Gallery, Paris, France
FIAC, One Man Show by Carlhian Gallery, Grand Palais, Paris, France
Imagination of Marino Di Teana, Brive-la-Gaillarde, France
Di Teana - Painter and Sculptor, Carlhian Gallery, Paris, France
Jean-Jacques Dutko Gallery, Paris, France
Homage to Frederic II Hohenstauffen, University of Bari, Italy
Exhibition with James Pichette, Pornichet, France
Collégiale St Pierre Le Puellier Orléans, France
Grand Théatre of Angers, Angers, France
Exhibition in Volklingen, Saarland, Germany
Personal exhibitions and important projects since the creation of the Association MDT
TRYPITIQUE, monumental sculptures exhibition in Angers, Angers, France
Michèle Broutta Gallery - One man Show Salon Art Paris, Grand Palais, Paris.
Sculpture Biennale of Yerres, France
Salon Art-Elysées - FIAC, Michèle Broutta Gallery, Paris, France
Collection of FRAC, Orleans, France.
Collection of Satoru Sato Museum, Tome city, Japan
Chateau of Vaumarcus, Neuchâtel, Swiss
Jonas Gallery, Neuchâtel, Swiss
Krings-Ernst Gallery, Cologne, Germany
Project of 4 monumental sculptures for Teana, Potenza, Italy
The Palace of Fontainebleau, France
INTERNATIONAL SCULPTURE TRIENNIAL of Poznan, Poland
Fine Arts Museum of Cambrai, France.
Retrospective exhibition at Galerie LOFT, Paris, France
Marino di Teana, forgeron de l’espace , Citadelle de Sisteron, Alpes de Haute-Provence, France
Art Paris 2019 - One Man show by Galerie LOFT, Grand Palais, Paris, France
Exposition at Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy