Mario Merz

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Mario Merz

Mario Merz (born January 1, 1925 in Milan , † November 9, 2003 in Turin ) was an Italian artist and main representative of Arte Povera .

life and work

Mario Merz grew up in Turin and studied medicine at the University of Turin . During the Second World War he joined the anti-fascist group "Giustizia e Libertà". In this context, he was arrested in 1945 and spent a short time in prison. During this time he began to turn to art. Initially Merz painted oil paintings, from 1960 he created informal spiral paintings. From 1960 he turned away from informal art ; he began to look for metaphors for the connection between nature and culture in things themselves; he created his now famous light objects. In these works he combined neon tubes and neon writing with everyday things like bottles and umbrellas.

Arte Povera

In 1967 Mario Merz formed a loose group with the artists Giovanni Anselmo , Alighiero Boetti , Luciano Fabro , Jannis Kounellis , Giulio Paolini , Giuseppe Penone , Michelangelo Pistoletto and Gilberto Zorio . Germano Celant (* 1940), art critic and curator, coined the term Arte Povera for the group . Merz is a main representative of Arte Povera. From 1968 the first igloos - typical of his work - were made from a wide variety of materials such as glass, willow, etc. For Merz, the igloo is a metaphor for the ideal organic form of the original.

Zurich main station, the philosophical egg

From 1977 onwards, gestural, colorful painting with the integration of objects and the Fibonacci numbers was created. One of these works from 1992, called “The Philosophical Egg”, is located above the hall of Zurich's main train station.

Mario Merz was an autodidact as an artist; he died in Turin in 2003, where he had worked all his life. Mario Merz was married to the Italian artist Marisa Merz (1926–2019).


Exhibitions (selection)

Public collections

Igloo di pietra (1982)
Kröller-Müller Museum

Fondazione Merz

A foundation (Fondazione Merz) has existed in Turin since 2005, which is entrusted with the administration of the artist's estate. It resides in a former Lancia boiler house and is managed by the artist's daughter, Beatrice Merz.


  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (Ed.): Rendezvous. Masterpieces from the Center Georges Pompidou and the Guggenheim Museums , Guggenheim Museum Publications, New York 1998, ISBN 0-89207-213-X
  • Christel Sauer: Mario Merz: Isola della Frutta, Raussmüller Collection, Basel 2009, ISBN 978-3-905777-02-4
  • Christel Sauer: Mario Merz: Architettura fondata dal tempo, architettura sfondata dal tempo, Raussmüller Collection, Basel 2009, ISBN 978-3-905777-03-1
  • Christel Sauer: Mario Merz: Le braccia lunghe della preistoria, Raussmüller Collection, Basel 2009, ISBN 978-3-905777-04-8
  • Christel Sauer: Mario Merz: Casa sospesa, Raussmüller Collection, Basel 2009, ISBN 978-3-905777-05-5
  • Meret Arnold: Mario Merz: My home's wind, Raussmüller Collection, Basel 2011, ISBN 978-3-905777-07-9
  • Christel Sauer: Mario Merz: Senza titolo, Raussmüller Collection, Basel 2011, ISBN 978-3-905777-08-6
  • Mario Merz - Archetype and Processuality . In: Markus Stegmann: Architectural Sculpture in the 20th Century. Historical aspects and work structures , Tübingen 1995, pages 114–121.
  • Maddalena Disch: L'Uovo filosofico di Mario Merz. In: K + A , N. 4, Society for Swiss Art History GSK, Bern 2015, pp. 46–51.

Web links

Commons : Mario Merz  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Description on the website of the Swiss Federal Railways. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012 ; Retrieved April 15, 2014 .
  2. ^ Maddalena Disch: L'Uovo filosofico di Mario Merz. In Kunst + Architektur, number 4, GSK, Bern 2015, pp. 46–51.