Marisa Merz. Geometrie sconnesse palpiti geometrici
Collezione Giancarlo e Danna Olgiati, Lugano
September 22, 2019 – January 12, 2020
From the 22nd of September to the 12th of January 2020 the Collezione Giancarlo e Danna Olgiati is presenting the exhibition titled Marisa Merz. Geometrie sconnesse palpiti geometrici [Marisa Merz. Disconnected Geometries Geometrical Pulsations] dedicated to Marisa Merz (Turin, 1926-2019), the only female exponent of the Arte Povera group and one of the most outstanding protagonists of the 1960s Italian art scene. A selection of her most iconic works accentuates a recurrent theme in the artist’s work: her research treating the face and especially the human figure.
The exhibition project, curated by Beatrice Merz and developed in collaboration with the Fondazione Merz, belongs to a series of initiatives dedicated to artists forming part of the Collezione Giancarlo e Danna Olgiati comprising works from important public and private collections (prevalently Swiss), together with pieces from the artist’s personal collection. Covering more than fifty years of research this exhibition is composed of forty-five works which embody the entire creative career of Marisa Merz ranging from the drawing on different surface materials to sculpture in unbaked clay, from the weaving of copper wire and nylon to the objects transformed into wax in all of the artist’s diverse ways of expressing herself.
Embracing more than fifty years of research, the exhibition opens with some fundamental examples of the artist’s production. Iconic works such as the Untitled of 1975 document the most exemplary results of her research treating copper wire, an expressive means which allowed her to explore the dividing lines between drawing and sculpture. Starting out from the 1970s her interventions took on a fully and comprehensive environmental character as was testified by the large installation in meshed-copper wire, created in 1979 when it was exhibited for the first and, until now, for the only time.
The exhibition continues with a copious selection of works – some of which exhibited for the first time – including drawings and mixed technique pieces on different supports and a refined selection of her celebrated small clay “heads”. All of the works from the 1980s onwards draw out the artist’s most recent artistic path, highlighting a recurrent theme in her production: her investigation of the face or the human figure, chosen as being the exhibition’s point of reference. As affirmed by Beatrice Merz in her catalogue introduction: “The ‘layout’ of the exhibition has been designed in order to allow the individual works to carry out a close and coherent dialogue between themselves, in this way creating a forcefield articulated by way of a succession of unknown and transfigured although profoundly real faces. Figures or faces that are carried out by way of the superimposition of signs and matters in an almost obsessive rhythm“.
The very title of the exhibition – Geometrie sconnesse palpiti geometrici – was written by the artist on a wall of her studio-home and proposes itself as a guiding enigma with regards to the extremely personal secret universe of Marisa Merz whose exhibition in Lugano hopes to reinstate its both lyrical and rigorous complexity.