10 Sep 2021 – 14 Nov 2021

Arturo Martini and Carrara. Woman Swimming Underwater

Curated by

Lucia Mannini with Eva Francioli and Stefania Rispoli

Info Arrow

Where and when


10September 2021


14November 2021

Museo Novecento

The exhibition, which was born as a section within the Arturo Martini and Florence exhibition, is dedicated to that special relationship that Martini, like many other sculptors, had with the Apuan Alps, where statuary marble was extracted from the times of ancient Rome, preferred by artists for its purity and brightness.

Exhibition Hours


Monday – Sunday

11:00 am

8:00 pm


The link between the sculptors of the twentieth century and the Versilian area is therefore renewed within this new exhibition project, which ideally follows the one just concluded and intended to investigate the relationship between Henry Moore and Tuscany.

Martini’s relationship with Carrara and with marble presents the character of discovery and adventure: the sculptor from Treviso arrived there in mid-1937, following the contract for the large bas-relief La Giustizia corporativa, intended for the Palazzo di Giustizia in Milan. and returns there several times, working at the Nicoli laboratory.

In the years between 1939 and 1940 Martini also matured a profound dissatisfaction with the monumental statuary which led him to temporarily abandon sculpture to devote himself to painting, as evidenced by the painting The marble quarries, exhibited in the exhibition. In 1941, however, he was commissioned by the University of Padua to build a monument in memory of the Latin historian Tito Livio. It is said that Woman swimming underwater was born from an echelon of the great block of Tito Livio, the result of a long intellectual gestation.

Only then did the sculptor find the linguistic means to give substance to the impression he had, years ago, from the vision of the 1928 film White Shadows of the South Seas, set in Polynesia and interpreted by the Mexican-Tahitian Raquel Torres, beautiful like a primitive goddess.

Martini decides to complete the sculpture by beheading it and, with a sharp and ruthless blow, thus transforms “the work from” dated into eternal”, as Carlo Nicoli will observe. The extreme research conducted by Martini in the 1940s therefore finds its synthesis in the Woman swimming underwater, who floats suspended in space, on three metal pins designed by the architect Carlo Scarpa for the first presentation of the work at the Venice Biennale of 1942.

As in the volume published by Nonveiller, with a rich sequence of images, a careful observation and from multiple points of view of the Woman who swims underwater was proposed, so here is the rare opportunity to observe, with the necessary calm, this sensational response by Martini to the statuary of his time.

-Lucia Mannini


Arturo Martini

1889, Treviso – 1947, Milan

Curated by

Lucia Mannini

Eva Francioli

Stefania Rispoli

Scientific Coordination

Francesca Neri

Luca Puri


Costanza Savelloni


Giulia Spissu

Visual Identity

Dania Menafra

Ph Credits

Serge Domingie



In collaboration with

Dipartimento SAGAS dell’Università degli Studi di Firenze

Margherita Scheggi

Valentina Torrigiani