Artist: Mario Merz
Size: 126 x 127 cm
Medium: Acrylic, charcoal, ink, bondo and shell on gauze laid on cardboard
Creation year: 1982
Provenance: Sperone Westwater Fischer Inc New York (no. SWF83.115); Acquired directly from the previous by the last owner circa 1983; Thence by descent to the present owner;; Exhibited; New York Sperone Westwater Fischer Merz Nauman Singer Venezia 1983;; ;; If any Twentieth Century artist came close to capturing the almost mystical beauty and terrible power inherent in the natural world it was Mario Merz. A major figure in the Italian avant-garde movement known as Arte Povera Merz's work is often created from humble materials challenging the most basic ideas of what can or should constitute great art. Large and imposing and yet subtle and deftly handled Untitled of 1982 is an example of the artist at his most perceptive and most penetrating. But like nature itself this elusive work remains strangely hard to pin down refusing to be defined by borders or boundaries. In its attempt to represent the infinite Mario Merz's Untitled 1982 pushes human comprehension to its very limits.;; In the present work we find a number of Merz's key motifs most notably the transformation of everyday materials such as cardboard and gauze the symbol of the spiral and an interest in organic elements in this case the shell of a snail which sits at the centre of this large composition. Always fiercely political Merz's earliest works were created in prison following his arrest for distributing anti-Fascist literature in 1945; made using only a pencil and scraps of paper these first drawings represented the beard of a fellow inmate in a series of never-ending spirals. It was perhaps inevitable that Merz would later become involved in Arte Povera a movement named by Italian critic and curator Germano Celant which aimed to deconstruct traditional concepts of artistic practice and materiality. By the mid-1960s Merz was creating paintings featuring objets trouves and by the following decade he had become fascinated by the Fibonacci sequence a mathematical series in which each number is created from the sum of the last two (0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21...) a concept which he began to represent with the symbol of a spiral. The present work created at a time when the artist had become particularly focused on images of animals pulls together these various elements into an astounding conclusion.
Exhibition history: New York Sperone Westwater Fischer Merz Nauman Singer Venezia 1983