Marino di Teana, Parcours sans fin [Endless Route / Infinite Circuit], 1973/1974, 51°57'52.4"N 7°37'33.8"E
The steel sculpture Parcours sans fin by the Italian-Argentine sculptor Marino di Teana (1920–2012) counts among the earliest art acquisitions of the City of Münster. Its purchase as “art in architecture” for the Pascal-Gymnasium is directly related to the exhibition history of the Skulptur Projekte: the constructivist sculpture reached Münster in 1977, originally as a private loan by the artist for the first edition of the large exhibition that since then has been staged every ten years. From July to November of that year, Parcours sans fin was featured along with two other of Teana’s metal sculptures in the section “Autonomous Sculpture” in the palace gardens.1 Aside from this, works by Max Bill, Alexander Calder, Lucio Fontana, Otto Freundlich, Ernst Hermanns, Norbert Kricke, David Rabinowitch and Mark Di Suvero were on display at this location. Today the rust-brown Corten steel sculpture—not least due to its installation away from the inner city—is at best known to a smaller part of Münster’s public. It is nonetheless rewarding to take a closer look at this often-overseen work and its (here) almost forgotten creator.
Francesco Marino—later known by the artist name Marino di Teana—was born in the southern Italian village of Teana in 1920. He evaded the military service in Mussolini’s fascist Italy in 1936 by emigrating to Argentina. In Buenos Aires, he initially worked as a mason and later as a construction site manager. At the same time, he studied architecture and the liberal arts. A scholarship provided by the French embassy finally allowed him to return to Europe in 1952, where, after his introduction to the Galerie Denise René in Paris, he increasingly gained recognition during the 1960s. His reputation was not only based on his sculptural work, but di Teana also achieved success internationally with his utopian-visionary architectural and urban designs. In 1965, for example, he represented his adopted country, France, at the international conference for architecture and urban development in Bochum—alongside the Swiss architect and urbanist Le Corbusier (1887–1965)—where he was honoured with the silver medal for his model-like villes du futur (Cities of the Future). Of particular interest, however, is the considerable number of public commissions for around fifty works, which Marino di Teana could realize over several decades in almost all parts of France. In view of its dimension, the monumental sculpture Liberté in Fontenay-sous-Bois is particularly striking: measuring twenty-one metres in height and weighing one hundred tons, it ranks among the largest steel sculptures in Europe.
Even if Marino di Teana’s Parcours sans fin cannot keep up with such an immense scale, the sculpture is in many respects characteristic for his oeuvre. Significant is the absence of organically formed, expressive elements in favour of rhythmically structured basic forms. Moreover, di Teana time and again placed particular emphasis on the (negative) space as an element of artistic composition: “Harmony results from the relationship of a number of forms and their intermediate spaces.”2 Di Teana himself described the essential role of these free spaces—becoming apparent especially when one moves around his works—as vide actif (active void).
A particularly distinct feature of di Teana’s steel sculptures is, however, their architectural character: “All my sculptures are architectural models”, he once said about the variable dimensions and the tectonic structure of his works.3 Parcours sans fin can thus also be viewed as a futurist-model spatial structure with dynamically stretched axes, floating main bodies, circular segments as spatial openings and vertically ascending towers. If one engages in this perception of the work, an exciting dialogue with the building complex of the school emerges. And perhaps this experience, four decades after the sculpture’s acquisition, bears the possibility of an aesthetic rediscovery.
See: Klaus Bußmann and Kasper König (eds.): Skulptur. Ausstellung in Münster 1977, exh. cat. Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, (Münster, 1977), pp. 95, 179–181, on the three-part structuring of exhibition in: “Historical-didactic section (Landesmuseum); Autonomous Sculpture (palace gardens and individual locations between the museum and palace); and the project section (urban realm)“, https://www.skulptur-projekte-archiv.de/de-de/1977/
Marino di Teana, quote after: Marino di Teana. Sculptures, Dessins et Peintures. 1960 -1980, exh. cat. Musée des Beaux-Arts (Pau, 1981), p. 19, (quote translated by Barbara Lang).
See: https://frac-centre.fr/collection-art-architecture/rub/rubauteurs-58.html?authID=228, (quote translated by Barbara Lang).