Francesco MARINO DI TEANA, born August 8, 1920 in Teana, a small village of Basilicata in southern Italy that bears the name of Pythagoras’ wife, and died on January 1, 2012 at age 91, is an Italian-Argentine sculptor.
He first became a shepherd, since at the age of five he would help his father to work in the fields. He then learned to forge, to repaint the frescoes of the churches as well as to make masonry.
At age 16, the war broke out and Italy allied with Germany. To avoid the army, Francesco is sent to Argentina to find his father who abandoned his family a few years earlier to make a fortune. In Buenos Aires, his father received him coldly and only accepted him if he worked so as to provide an additional salary. He practiced the job of mason, and became site manager.
He also attended evening classes in mechanics and polytechnics at the Salguero National School, where he obtained a degree in architecture. Then he passed the difficult entrance examination of the School of Fine Arts Ernesto de la Carcova where he was received but his father did not support the idea that he would stop working and he threw his son out. He was on the street but followed all classes and worked at night to live. He graduated from school with the best grades of the diploma “Premio Mittre”, an equivalent to the Prix de Rome. He also received the title of professor and a university professorship but he wanted a career as an artist and he decided to return to Europe in 1952 to follow his own path thanks to an honorary scholarship given by the French Embassy in Argentina.
Thus, he returned to Europe in 1952, and moved to Paris in 1953. This was a very difficult time for the artist who lived of odd jobs and slept most of the time in the street. It is thanks to the decorator, Georges Guillot, that he finally obtained a small workshop under the roofs of rue de Passy. He followed the lessons of Le Corbusier in Sèvres-Babylone and met the artists and intellectuals of the district St Germain-des-Près. Faced with the insistence of Huguette Séjournet, a young painter who hired him as a decorator and who will become his wife, he went to the prestigious Denise René Gallery to show him his first sculptures. Being impressed by his works, the gallerist then organized several solo exhibitions and also exhibited his artworks alongside prestigious artists such as Vasarely, Jesús-Rafael Soto, Julio Park, Sonia Delaunay, François Morellet, Carlos Cruz-Díez and Richard Mortensen.
In February 1962 he won, against a hundred competitor, the first prize awarded by a prestigious jury, including the sculptor Alberto Giacometti, and the painter Serge Poliakoff. Following this great event, his notoriety exploded: it also opened the doors for the artist of “mécénat” the following year by producing at the Grand Palais in Paris a set of 8 monumental fountains in Clarit Saint Gobain glass (7m high and more than 16m long) for the exhibition “Contemporary Art“.
With Marino Di Teana, sculpture is architecture, it is a building, and emptiness is a material contributing in itself to the balance of forms, hence his theory of “active vacuum“. “To create a harmonic dialogue in space, you need a certain number of free forms, as it takes a certain distance between two people to make the conversation meaningful,” he said.
Considered a “poet and philosopher of space” by his peers, the artist is particularly known for his monumental sculptures, the most famous of which is probably Liberté, in Fontenay-sous-Bois (Val-de-Marne) , the largest European Corten steel sculpture with a height of 21 meters and a weight of 100 tonnes, able to withstand wind speeds of 250 km / h, whose color turns from black to red as temperatures change.