Dia Art Foundation presents a long-term exhibition of work by Mario Merz, opening May 10, 2020, at Dia Beacon in Beacon, New York. Featuring recent acquisitions, the exhibition includes Teatro cavallo (Horse Theater, 1967) and Tavola spirale (Spiral Table, 1982) alongside historical loans from collections in the United States and the Fondazione Merz in Turin. Using recycled organic and industrial materials, the artist developed a highly imaginative iconography and recast timeless forms, such as the igloo and table, in installations that envision the interdependency of individuals, society, and the natural environment. Spanning the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s, the exhibition revisits Merz’s key forms and motifs, distinctive use of neon, and deployment of the Fibonacci sequence—where each number equals the sum of the two that precede it—for the structure of his installations. This will be his first solo institutional presentation in the United States in years.
Merz was a central figure in the Arte Povera movement that emerged in Italy in the late 1960s. Formally related to Postminimalism in the United States and Mono-ha (School of Things) in Japan, Arte Povera challenged the traditional values placed on art objects by dissolving sculpture into performance. To this end, Merz pursued installations that are at once autonomous and open-ended, using the Fibonacci sequence as a symbol and structure, and employing widely varying materials like fruits, twigs, wax, tar, wire, and neon tubes, which at times spell out political aphorisms and at other times graft onto the architecture that hosts them.
Mario Merz was born in Milan in 1925. He died in Milan in 2003.