Mario Merz

Mario Merz was born in 1925 in Milan. He began studying medicine but abandoned his studies during the Second World War to join the anti-Fascist ‘Justice and Liberty’ movement. In 1954, he held his first exhibition at Galleria La Bussola in Turin, where he exhibited works clearly influenced by his knowledge of informal art and American abstract expressionism. Of fundamental importance was his meeting with the art critic Germano Celant, who included him as one of the exponents of the Arte Povera movement. From the 1960s, Merz was interested in verifying whether or not it was possible to transmit energy through organic elements: particularly famous are the works in which neon light passes through everyday objects. In 1968, he embarked on his series of Igloos, three-dimensional volumes conceived as nomadic shelters, made with sheets of glass and various other materials (animal skin, branches, bark), depending on the context in which the particular igloo was made. From 1970, Merz began using the Fibonacci numerical sequence, which he believed could represent the developmental processes of the organic world, and which lies at the heart of the construction of his numerous installations.

In 2003, Merz received the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association, and in 2005 the Fondazione Merz organised a large retrospective at the Castello di Rivoli and Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Turin. In 1989, the Guggenheim Museum in New York dedicated a large monographic exhibition to him. The work If form disappears its root is eternal was shown at Punta della Dogana in the exhibition “Prima Materia”.