Marisa Merz is one of the central figures and the only woman artist participating in the historical movement of Arte Povera. Renowned for her use of unusual materials, such as copper wire, clay and wax, Merz creates sculptures and drawings reflecting a poetic sensitivity and gently unfolding her vision of art and life.
The Arte Povera movement was formed by the late 60’s with the aim to challenge the established beliefs and practices regarding the processes and materials which then defined artistic creation in the western hemisphere.
Along with the other artists of the Arte Povera movement, including her husband Mario Merz, Marisa Merz starts incorporating in her works everyday and organic materials, in an effort to challenge the elite status associated with art works in the realm of consumption culture of modern capitalism.
By employing abstract, organic figures, Merz creates familiar portraits and sculptures which insist on subjectiveness while emitting both a constantly changing message as well as the artist’s belief that every shape is fluid and should be able to transform into any other shape.
Merz does not distinguish between art and life, employing handcraft and unconventional materials in order to explore the infinite possibilities of everyday life while in many cases she adopts traditional techniques associated with the female domestic environment such as knitting. The idea of home acting as a sphere engulfing privacy, familiarity and female concepts is one of the central references to her work.
Moreover, in her works, the image of the face emerges as a symbol of the eternal human spirit. These faces are characterized by fleeting lines and abstract forms. Merz’s figures defy the expressions of individual identity and resemble ghosts while seeming as they are detached from any kind of social or narrative framework as if floating for ever through time.
The exhibition hosted at Bernier/Eliades will include paintings, sculptures and works on paper which emphasize Merz’s pioneering role both in the Arte Povera movement as well as in the broader modern art community. Among these works will be featured also pieces from her recent major retrospective The Sky is a Great Space that was initially presented at the Metropolitan Museum of New York and then travelled to important museums all over the world (Hammer LA, Serralves Portugal, Museum de Moderne Salzburg).
Marisa Merz was born in 1926 in Turin, Italy. She has made numerous solo exhibitions in museums including among others: Centre Internationale d'Art et du Paysage, ÎIe de Vassivière, France, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples, Italy, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Holland, Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France. Select group exhibitions where she has participated include: Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, CCS Bard / Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, Tate Modern, London, Hirschhorn Museum, Washington.
In 2013 her works have been included in Venice Biennale, where Marisa Merz was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.