This exhibition, the first major solo exhibition that American museums dedicate to the Italian artist, features about one hundred pieces, bringing together sculptures, paintings, and installations that span five decades of Marisa Merz’s work, revealing the intimate and visionary character of her formal and aesthetic approach.
As the only female representative of the Arte Povera movement and a major protagonist in the Italian art scene of the 1960s, Marisa Merz stands out for having followed her own reserved and independent artistic path. Through her research she has explored a variety of mixed media and processes, ranging from drawing to sculpture, from painting to installations, and she has embraced traditional feminine crafts, such as needlework and weaving to emphasize the importance of handcrafting in art.
Marisa Merz’s oeuvre crystallizes the ephemeral while floating between public space and her private sphere made up of personal memories.
In the 1970s she began creating her first works as an expansion of her domesticity: they consist of swirling, mobile and irregular structures made of aluminum sheets (Living sculptures) and light objects delicately made from copper wire and knitting needles.
In the mid-1970s, the artist began sculpting a series of small heads molded from unfired clay and sometimes coated with luminous pigments or gilding, and encased in wax.
Simultaneously, and to this day, Marisa Merz has continued to create drawings and paintings, whose recurring subjects are mainly female features and faces. Their figures emerge in rapidly traced arabesque lines and seem to be detached from any context, being fixed in a state where they remain suspended in time.
Fondazione Merz has actively contributed to developing the exhibition by lending—together with the artist herself—several works, some of which will go on display for the first time. The Fondazione has also provided fundamental documentation for the exhibition catalogue, and worked in close collaboration with the curators, to edit the most updated and complete bio-bibliography.
The exposition is curated by Bonnie Butler, Head Curator at Hammer Museum (L.A.) and Ian Alteveer, Associate Curator, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The MET – Breuer
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