Mario Merz (1925-2003) was born in Milan. During World War II he abandoned pursuit of a degree in medicine to join the anti-fascist movement “Giustizia e Libertà” (Justice and Freedom). In 1945 he was arrested while leafleting and spent a year in Turin’s prison where he executed numerous experimental drawings, made without ever removing the pencil point from the paper. He had his first solo exhibition in 1954, at the Galleria La Bussola in Turin. Beginning in the mid-1960s his desire to work with the idea of the transmission of energy from the organic to the inorganic led him to create works where neon pierces objects of everyday use, such as an umbrella, a glass, a bone or his own raincoat. In 1967, critic Germano Celant coined the term “Arte Povera” and included Merz among the proponents of the new language. Merz’s first solo museum show in the United States was at the Walker Art Center in 1972, followed by a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in 1989, and a survey at MoCA, Los Angeles, also in 1989. Major exhibitions of the artist’s work include Museum Folkwang, Essen (1979), Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (1979), Whitechapel, London (1980), Kunsthalle, Basel (1975, 1981), Palazzo dei Congressi, San Marino (1983), Kunsthaus, Zurich (1985), Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art (1990), Gallerie dell’Academia, Venice (2015), Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (2018-19), and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2019-20). In November 2020, Dia Beacon opened the first institutional survey of Merz’s work in the United States in over 30 years. Merz’s numerous honors included the Laurea honoris causa (2001) and the Praemium Imperiale (2003). His work can be found in numerous public and private collections worldwide including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Art Institute of Chicago; ARTIST ROOMS, National Galleries of Scotland and Tate; Dia Art Foundation; La Caixa Contemporary Art Collection; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Herbert Foundation, Ghent; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.