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a spiral glass table covered in a bounty of fruit and vegetables with a group of laurel branches standing in the center

Tavola a spirale, 1982

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.

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Artworks

Artworks Thumbnails

Mario Merz
Quattro tavole in forma di foglie di magnolia, 1985
beeswax and mixed media on 16 welded steel tables
29 x 783 x 60 inches (73,7 x 1981 x 152,4 cm)
SW 85200

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sculpture made of a large metal frame with wax elements attached

Mario Merz
Pianissimo, 1984
beeswax, pine cone, Plexiglas, steel and aluminum
102 x 31 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches (259 x 80 x 60 cm)
SW 84023

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Mario Merz
Le Foglie, 1983-84
acrylic, enamel, spray paint, gold leaf, gesso, charcoal on canvas
84 x 320 inches (213,4 x 812,8 cm)
SW 85103

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Mario Merz
Senza Titolo (Untitled), 1982
oil and water-based paint with clay, snail shell and leaves on wood
35 1/4 x 65 1/4 inches (89,5 x 165,7 cm)
SW 07299
Private Collection

a large branch on its side supported by a wax block while a large-scale painting of foliage hangs on the wall behind it

Mario Merz
Wandering Songs I (Canti errabondi I), 1983
acrylic and oil on canvas with tree branch and beeswax
113 x 306 x 40 inches (287 x 777 x 101,6 cm) overall
SW 84024

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Mario Merz
Bisonti (Se la forma scompare, la sua radice è eterna), 1982
spray enamel, charcoal and pastel on canvas and spray enamel and plaster on cardboard
91 1/2 x 225 3/4 inches (232,4 x 573,4 cm)
SW 85108

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Mario Merz
Tavola a spirale (Spiral table), 1982
aluminum, glass, fruit, vegetables, branches, and beeswax
216 inches (548,6 cm) diameter
SW 82022
Dia Art Foundation

Mario Merz
Untitled, 1981/82
acrylic, enamel, spray paint, oil, and charcoal on canvas
86 1/2 x 182 inches (245 x 462,3 cm)
SW 85103

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Mario Merz
Lingotto, 1969
beeswax, steel and branches
132 x 68 1/2 x 67 inches (335,4 x 174 x 170,2 cm)
SW 84021
Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Mario Merz
Quattro tavole in forma di foglie di magnolia, 1985
beeswax and mixed media on 16 welded steel tables
29 x 783 x 60 inches (73,7 x 1981 x 152,4 cm)
SW 85200

sculpture made of a large metal frame with wax elements attached

Mario Merz
Pianissimo, 1984
beeswax, pine cone, Plexiglas, steel and aluminum
102 x 31 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches (259 x 80 x 60 cm)
SW 84023

Mario Merz
Le Foglie, 1983-84
acrylic, enamel, spray paint, gold leaf, gesso, charcoal on canvas
84 x 320 inches (213,4 x 812,8 cm)
SW 85103

Mario Merz
Senza Titolo (Untitled), 1982
oil and water-based paint with clay, snail shell and leaves on wood
35 1/4 x 65 1/4 inches (89,5 x 165,7 cm)
SW 07299
Private Collection

a large branch on its side supported by a wax block while a large-scale painting of foliage hangs on the wall behind it

Mario Merz
Wandering Songs I (Canti errabondi I), 1983
acrylic and oil on canvas with tree branch and beeswax
113 x 306 x 40 inches (287 x 777 x 101,6 cm) overall
SW 84024

Mario Merz
Bisonti (Se la forma scompare, la sua radice è eterna), 1982
spray enamel, charcoal and pastel on canvas and spray enamel and plaster on cardboard
91 1/2 x 225 3/4 inches (232,4 x 573,4 cm)
SW 85108

Mario Merz
Tavola a spirale (Spiral table), 1982
aluminum, glass, fruit, vegetables, branches, and beeswax
216 inches (548,6 cm) diameter
SW 82022
Dia Art Foundation

Mario Merz
Untitled, 1981/82
acrylic, enamel, spray paint, oil, and charcoal on canvas
86 1/2 x 182 inches (245 x 462,3 cm)
SW 85103

Mario Merz
Lingotto, 1969
beeswax, steel and branches
132 x 68 1/2 x 67 inches (335,4 x 174 x 170,2 cm)
SW 84021
Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.