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Mario Merz

gallery installation view of a spiral shaped table covered with assorted fruit and vegetables

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), and the Gallerie dell’Academia, Venice (2015). 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; 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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Mario Merz

Mario Merz
Quattro tavole in forma di foglie di magnolia (Four tables in the shape of magnolia leaves), 1985
beeswax and mixed media on 16 welded steel tables
29" x 65'3" x 60" (73,7 x 1981 x 152,4 cm)
SW 85200

Mario Merz

Mario Merz
Pianissimo (very slowly, very softly), 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

Mario Merz
Le Foglie (The Leaves), 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

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

Mario Merz

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

Mario Merz
Bisonti (Bison), 1982
spray enamel, charcoal and pastel on canvas and spray enamel and plaster on cardboard
91 ½  x 225 ¾ inches (232,4 x 573.4 cm) overall
SW 85108B

Mario Merz

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

Mario Merz

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

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, DC

Artist exhibitions

Summer Exhibition
Summer Exhibition
8 July - 5 September 2008
Sperone Westwater, New York
Sculpture
Sculpture
Anselmo, Boetti, Laib, Merz, Nauman, Paolini, Pistoletto, Vital, Zorio
13 September – 18 October 1997
Sperone Westwater, New York
Mario Merz
Mario Merz
Master Works
11 January - 22 February 1992
Sperone Westwater, New York
Mario Merz
16 November - 21 December 1985
Sperone Westwater, New York
Drawings
Merz, Chia, Twombly, Cucchi
31 March - 28 April 1984
Sperone Westwater, New York
Mario Merz
18 February - 17 March 1984
Sperone Westwater, New York
Merz, Nauman, Singer, Venezia
14 May - 18 June 1983
Sperone Westwater, New York
Mario Merz
25 October - 15 November 1980
Sperone Westwater, New York
Mario Merz
31 March - 21 April 1979
Sperone Westwater, New York

Artist press

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia logo
Mario Merz: Time Is Mute
Exhibition Brochure
11 October 2019
The New Yorker logo
Mario Merz
by Jason Farago
30 May 2016
Observer logo
Weekend Edition: 10 Things to Do in New York’s Art World Before May 2
by Paul Laster
28 April 2016
Sperone Westwater logo
Press Kit