The Founder: Luigi Mari
THE FOUNDER: LUIGI MARI
LUIGI MARI, FOUNDER OF THE BIENNIALE
Sometimes, the uniqueness of human affairs makes extraordinary characters blossom. That is the case of Doctor Mari whose perfect description belongs to the great intellectual Leonardo Borgese. He stated: «brave, active, happy and wise, full of hope and faith even in the Midst of suffering. A caricaturist and portrayer, a doctor as in the old fashioned way characterized by that magic, religious je ne sais quoi which turns cure into art».
Luigi Mari was born in Tolentino in 1907 to an upper-middle-class family, a renowned Printing House owner. He is the nephew of a talented portrayer and caricaturist called Cesare Mercorelli who introduce him to the use of pencils and brushes. After finishing his studies in Rome and Bologna, he graduated in Medicine and chose to work in Eritrea. Right after the war, he came back to Tolentino and immediately understood that his town needed to have a reference point and be motivated by civic mindedness. At that time, the heart of Tolentino’s downtown was small, because the most of the population lived in the countryside, although it was already in the process of economic development towards leather manufacturing and foundries. Mari founded the Amateur Dramatics Theater, which involved two generations of Tolentino citizens. Comedies, dramas, revue magazines – some of which were written by Mari himself – are the spotlight of the city. It is an occasion for people to meet, discuss different topics and troubles, become aware of being part of a developing city. Furthermore, he founded the local branch of the “gioventù musicale” (music youth). This attitude of leadership and his commitment towards his city and its beautiful soul, resulted in his mayoral election victory. He firmly, pragmatically, shrewdly held his task from 1951 to 1960. During the two mandates, he kept the public accounts in balance, and also found resources to realize some important infrastructures that are still as relevant today for the city. After that he held a prominent position as the President of the Rotary Club of Macerata.
Mari provided the city with infrastructures and services, but he deemed it appropriate to promote it even abroad through image-building. An interactive promotion cannot neglect the cultural aspect. Then, he had an intuition. In memory of his uncle Marcorelli, he founded the Biennale dell’Umorismo nell’Arte (Biennale of Humor in the Arts), involving the most important leading Italian intellectuals in the event. In fact, just considering the first three editions, the Juries consisted of Cesare Zavattini, Amerigo Bartoli, Bruno Molaioli, Mino Maccari, Leonardo Borgese, Virgilio Guzzi, and Mario Rivosecchi. Mari was able to inspire humorists – such as writers, drawers, painters, columnists, journalists, filmmakers and so on – both nationally and internationally, and got them involved in his project giving rise to the Museo della caricatura (Museum of Caricature) in 1970. He had a spiritual attitude. He was sure that the highest form of respect for life is to fulfil people – considering all aspects of being a human being – through lending your own expertise. He put his ideas into practice as a doctor, a playwright and director, a city mayor, a Rotarian, and eventually as the creator, promoter and developer of the Biennale. Possibly, by choosing caricature, Mari wanted to highlight a form of art which makes people smile and think over. He gave this lost, grief-stricken humanity a little dose of serenity. Father Domenico Gentili said, «when we smile we delight in aesthetics, and grasp the meaning of a pure form, that is the effect of human souls having a critical, free, cynical attitude towards random happenings. Smiling relieves you. It is a catharsis; it helps you think outside the box; it is the friendly, ironic, kind, cynical meeting between you and the irrational. It is the escape from everyday life, which is very hard for most people».